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C.A. Whinnom of Folk London

reviews The Whispering Road by SeriousKitchen

What an intriguing premise for a CD, neither solely spoken word nor solely music, so it might be tricky for music shops to decide where to file this release. Somewhere near Ivor Cutler, I suppose! Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer will probably already be well known to Folk London readers as a nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed violin) and guitar duo, but are joined on this recording by storyteller, Nick Hennessey.

This is the studio CD of a live story telling with music show and is suitable for children aged 8 and upwards. There are two Scandinavian stories narrated here but there are standalone music sections, plus incidental music under the speech, and songs. Unusually for a folk release, the sleeve notes are tantalisingly short, but the music includes polka tunes by the 19th century 'legendarisk nyckelharpospelman' Byss Calle, 20th century legendary nyckelharpa player Eric Sahlstrom, Trollmors Vagvisa by Margit Holmberg (which as far as I can find out easily is a wellknown Swedish children's song about a singing Mother Troll: thank you Swedish Wikipedia!), newly written songs by Hennessey & Dyer and some tunes merely labelled Trad. I'd love to have had a bit more information about the music.

The track numbers aren't listed next to the tune titles, so it is tricky to isolate the music alone. This is deliberate, as the performance is seen as a synthesis of the art forms, but I'd like to have been able to listen to the music on its own. Even simply including the music tracks alone as an addendum at the end of the CD would have made it more useful for me to use this recording in my teaching, but I suppose the obvious answer to that would be to book the artists to come into school and do it all for real!

Beautifully performed and recorded, I really enjoyed this CD in its own right, and not just in terms of a teaching tool. It is an interesting concept well delivered. If for any reason you can't read your children a bedtime story yourself this would be a useful recording, but it has enough to keep adults interested too. Highly recommended.