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John Waltham of The Living Tradition

reviews Echoes of Alfred by Bob and Gill Berry

This is a very pleasant collection of eminently singable songs from a couple whose devotion to traditional song stretches back through their parents and embraces both singing and their pivotal role in the running of Chippenham Festival. “Alfred”, of course, refers to Mr Williams of that ilk, whose collection of songs from the upper reaches of the Thames has never (for some unaccountable reason) attracted quite the attention that others have, but which it richly deserves – as this album proves.

They haven’t been afraid to give life to a set of words by grafting on a tune of their own, nor to complete a story by adding a verse. In neither case is this noticeable, blending seamlessly with the original parts. As you’d expect from these two, the singing and musicianship are impeccable, aided by a very competent group of backing singers and musicians. The songs jog happily along with a vein of light humour and a love of life running through the tracks.

There really isn’t much to criticise, and there’s a lot to enjoy on this CD, and if you like examining the slightly less popular backwaters of the English tradition, and if you enjoy good singing, you’ll like this.