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Kevin T. Ward of The Living Tradition

reviews On Blue Stockings by Lauren McCormick

This is the debut album from the third member (with Emily Portman and Jim Causley) of the erstwhile but celebrated Devil's Interval.

Lauren's clear and pure English voice was a distinctive component in that trio's characterful vocal renderings of traditional material. Here on the six traditional songs, sourced and arranged with academic attention to versions and provenance, her voice and muse is well suited. Likewise on two self penned pieces, an enchanting a cappella piece for her mother and a Bluebeard 'fairy tale to unveil', both with some pleasing lyric touches incidentally, she equally ably applies her voice to the metric character of the more contemporary lines. However, covers of songs by Dylan, Cohen and the Thompsons, are much less convincing with some uncomfortably vulnerable elements in the phrasing.

One of the pieces is said to have been 'Delarred'. This refers to the outcome of the alchemical process of letting Dave Delarre (guitars) and James Delarre (violin), those malkins from Mawkin, loose on its arrangement a magical process indeed! With Lauren's fine flute playing and, for lower atmospheric tonalities, the exquisite sounds of Roz Gladstone's cello, the backing to the songs is certainly excellent. Intricate in its orchestration, varied in its dynamic range, it combines classical, folk and contemporary elements with some unexpected and quirky twists (short diversions into klezmer/gypsy and Celtic for example) that cleverly befits the drama of the stories and offers humour and delight, often in equal measure.