Kath Deighton of Folk Monthly
reviews Just Another Day by Tom and Barbara BrownThis is Tom and Barbara Brown's sixth CD on the independent English music label WildGoose and it takes us to the West Country and, in particular, to Minehead. Tom and Barbara specialise in traditional songs of the West Country and sea shanties are very much part of this tradition. The majority of the songs were collected by Cecil Sharp between 1904 and 1909 from two retired Minehead sea captains, James Vickery and Robert Lewis. Many of the songs will be familiar to folk club audiences, but Tom and Barbara have used lesser known tunes, particularly to Spanish Ladies, which Tom says he had difficulty in learning, as he was used to the version he had been brought up with.
The notes on the CD are interesting and enlightening. Apparently, Heave Away My Johnny was collected by Cecil Sharp from James Vickery twice, in 1904 and again in 1907 and the tune differed between the two collections. It reinforces the fact that traditional music has always evolved over time and whilst tradition should be respected, change is not necessarily a bad thing.
Although the majority of the songs on Just Another Day are traditional, three come from the Minehead Harbour Maritime Heritage Project which Tom and Barbara were involved in. These songs fit in well with the overall theme. The sound is uncomplicated and has a folk club chorus sing feel to it. There are many luminaries of the folk world credited, but they don't overwhelm and I was particularly taken with the cello playing of Anahata on The Sea Captain.
Much research has gone into this album and its varied set of songs should appeal to traditional music lovers and those who love songs of the sea. I imagine some of this material will crop up in folk clubs before long.