Mel Pitts of Shire Folk
reviews A Celebration of Old England by Anna ShannonAs is my usual practice when I receive a CD for review, I play it in the car on my way to meetings, etc. So Anna Shannon's A Celebration of Old England was duly inserted and from the moment her crystal clear voice filled the car, I was hooked. I admit that Anna had not come to my attention before and I was the loser.
I pride myself that I have a good knowledge of English songs and tunes, but of the 14 tracks played, I only knew one 'Gaudete: They are such good songs, so beautifully played and sung, that I couldn't understand why I'd never come across any of them. They are backed by expertly played guitar, flute, whistle, fiddle and bowed psaltery among others, and I assumed that the musicians and backing singers Anna had assembled were from the top ranks of current players. So when I finally checked the sleeve notes I was astounded to discover that everything was written, and impeccably played and sung, by Anna herself (with the exception of Roy Piper's bass on one track).
It is very hard to select standout tracks, but 'The Sheep They Bide' is as good as anything I have heard before. It is easy to imagine that these songs, for instance 'Polly Cooper' or 'The Travellers Way; come from way back in the tradition via the Coppers or Watersons instead of from a caravan on the Yorkshire Moors.
An incredible piece of work. Talent will out.