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Jacqueline Patten of Whats Afoot

reviews Just Another Day by Tom and Barbara Brown

Tom and Barbara Brown have become immersed in the seafaring history of the West Somerset and North Devon coast along with the traditions and songs associated with it. After the highly acclaimed series of CDs Short Sharp Shanties on which was recorded the entire repertoire of Watchet shantyman John Short, this album comprises eleven of the songs that Cecil Sharp collected from two retired sea Captains in Minehead, Robert Lewis and John [sic] Vickery, plus three that Tom and Barbara wrote for the Minehead Harbour Project.

The songs from Lewis and Vickery were diverse and by no means all maritime, some are rare, some more well known. Of those chosen for this CD the maritime songs include ‘Spanish Ladies’, ‘The Sea Captain’, ‘Franklin’, and ‘The Greenland Fishery’; while those associated with the land include ‘The Bonny Bunch of Roses O’, ‘The Lark in the Morn’, and ‘The Devonshire Girls’. Many of the songs can be heard on the folk scene today, rarely are they heard in these versions. Both the opening and closing tracks, ‘A Minehead Lad’ and ‘Just Another Day’ were drawn from the MInehead Harbour Project. They set the scene perfectly at the same time as setting the strong performance style that persists throughout. The other taken from the same project is ‘Heave Away My Johnny’, new word by Tom put to a tune that Sharp collected from Cpt. Vickery.

Every track is refreshingly varied with strong vocals and accompaniment. Careful thought has gone into the arrangements. For the recording Tom and Barbara were joined by an array of talented friends: Barry Lister, Matt Norman, Paul Sartin, Keith Kendrick, Anahata, Brenda Burnside, Jon Dyer and Mary Eagle all make contributions. Finally credit should be given to Doug Bailey for another excellent production from Wildgoose.