Ian Croft of R2
reviews A Celebration of Old England by Anna ShannonThis is a fine album of traditional songs and tunes, except it isn't. Anna Shannon has such an understanding of the tradition that her own compositions appear to be part of it, and she has a great ear for tunes too. On A Celebration Of Old England, she performs eleven self penned songs, two instrumentals, and covers her favourite trad song, 'Gaudete'.
The songs encompass a wide range of traditional themes craftsmen, hunting, poachers, dancing bears, sheep, servant girls, infidelity, and drinking. 'Old Jonny Barley' is a cousin of 'John Barleycorn' with a great chorus. In 'Ways Of The Hunting', the fox escapes while horses and riders end up in the bog. 'The Traveller's Ways' tells of a traveller who tries to retrieve his baby from its mother, a lady, with unexpected consequences.
Anna plays and sings everything herself, using multi tracking to great effect. The list of instruments is impressive guitars, fiddle, oboe, sax, flute, recorders, chanter, shruti, bowed psaltery, and percussion and there are usually two or more on each track. Vocals are also multi tracked regularly 'Gaudete' gets a particularly intricate arrangement with multiple overlaid harmonies. From start to finish, this album is brimming with good songs and tunes.