Chris Sullivan of Mardles
reviews Far Distant Stars by Lynne Heraud and Pat TurnerOne thing that you can depend upon with Lynne Heraud and Pat Turner's music is variety, and "Far Distant Stars" show this at its best.
The themes of the CD's traditional songs, or songs written in a traditional style, are ones frequently found in the genre. Death is covered by Poor Murdered Woman, How the Cold Winds Do Blow (which I actually found rather repetitive), and, very appropriately, He Went For a Soldier, a setting of Ruth Comfort Mitchell's poem chronicling the futility of the experiences and death of a young soldier in the First World War. Sheep Crook and Black Dog and I Must and I Will Get Married, on the other hand, set out two opposing views of the desirability of marriage.
Lynne and Pat's own compositions, though, cover topics that you wouldn't normally expect to become the subject of a song. These include the nosiness of middle aged, middleclass women (Secrets), meeting a desirable partner in the supermarket (Trolley Dating) and, in a cry from the heart or some part of the anatomy, anyway Stress Incontinence. Unexpected in another way is the inclusion of Rare Bird's 1970s hit Sympathy, which works remarkably well when sung unaccompanied.
A couple of ditties with a music hall flavour also appear. These are Lynne's Mr DoubleBarrelled, which is very entertaining and is only saved from being exceptionally rude by astute wordplay, and Mr & Mrs Smith, which tells of the innocent (or not so innocent?) goings on between master and serving lass while the mistress is out at her sewing class. Standing apart from all these is the poignant Song for Tom, written by Pat, which is a lovely, and ultimately uplifting, song in memory of Lynne's youngest son.
So a very diverse collection of songs, then, but the things that hold them all together are the excellence of the singing and harmonies, subtly enhanced by accompaniment on the concertina, guitar and recorder, and the sense of fun exhibited on the less serious tracks. To appreciate Lynne and Pat at their best you should probably see them live, but until you can do that, this CD will give you a great taster of what you can expect.