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TIM CUMMING of Songlines

reviews A Handful of Sky by Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

This is a pair of musicians steeped in the folk music and traditions of the south west Becki Driscoll comes from Bridport and is now based in north Devon with Nick Wyke. Both have worked with Wren Music, the West Country's purveyors and educators in local folk traditions, with Wyke being an aficionado of the tunes of William Andrew of Dartmoor. A Handful of Sky combines traditional tunes with original works, but the main focus is on songs and tunes from the south west the opening salutary narrative of 'Rambleaway', the equally cautionary 'The Cornwall Apprentice, and tunes such as 'The Bridgewater Hornpipe/The Dorchester Hornpipe'.

Their playing is exemplary, their ability to draw the ear of the listener having been honed by their experiences as itinerant Mediterranean buskers, and their work on fiddle and viola is A Handful of Sky's greatest strength. Wyke's vocals sometimes seem to me as too youthful to convincingly handle some of the darker lyrical matter, though Driscoll's wispy, delicate take on 'The Cruel Mother' is suitably chilling set to a pizzicato background. But their arrangements and performances are the set's main meat the tunes, dances, and the beautiful, haunting title track.