Grem Devlin of The Living Tradition
reviews A Celebration of Old England by Anna ShannonThis album is a delightful showcase for the song writing of this multi instrumentalist, a native of North Yorkshire, but familiar to me from successive Fylde Folk Festivals, where I've seen her give some blinding performances.
However, she really comes into her own on this recording, which gives us the opportunity to hear her many instrumental talents overlaid with care by the producer (Doug Bailey). Of the 14 songs, 13 are self penned (the exception being a new take on the Trad. Gaudete yes, the one that Steeleye had a Christmas hit with all those years ago).
The subject matter is almost exclusively rural hunting, poaching, farming, travellers and country crafts. Anna has a vocal delivery that shouts its ethnic credentials and all of her songs sound like they have been handed down over generations, rather than contemporary. The Traveller's Ways is a prime example, but I could just as easily have cited Polly Cooper or The Sheep They Bide in fact any of her compositions.
Her competence on a multitude of instruments and what must have been countless hours of over dubbing has resulted in an album that is both a labour of love and a tangible demonstration of the essence of this artiste, summing her up in a melodic nutshell.