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Ian Spafford of EDS

reviews Well Seasoned by Keith Kendrick

This aptly named cd transports us through a year, beginning and ending at Christmas, via 13 songs and 2 tune sets featuring Keiths inimitable voice and concertina playing ? both Anglo and English ? with excellent support from a distinguished cast of musicians and singers ? Graeme Knights, Johnny Collins, Lynne Heraud, Mick Ryan, Anahata (cello), Keith Holloway (melodeon), Paul Sartin (piano), Ralph Jordan (duet concertina, guitar, bouzouki) and Sue Evans (hammered dulcimer) to name but a few. Besides drawing on a variety of wellrespected sources ? The Copper Family, the Maud Karpeles edited Sharp Collection The Crystal Spring, The South Yorkshire Carol Tradition ? Keith also uses contemporary material by John Tams and Graeme Miles as well as setting three sets of lyrics to music and including one tune, Dougs Maggot, of his own.
The Ploughshare (The Seasons Round) ? just voice and concertina ? is the Copper Familys tour through the agricultural year, and sets the mood for the whole cd. The acapella Bring Im On is John Tams take on the Calling on theme of the old guisers, very traditional in concept, right down to the chorus harmonies, as is The Ashbourne Wassail, Keiths setting of a selection of verses from the Oxford Book of Carols.
Keiths penchant for songs with a strong narrative line set to a catchy tune is evidenced by The Great Derby Footrace and The Grey Cock and the Lovers Ghost, both employing just voice and concertina ? the latter a particularly telling, very sparse, arrangement which allows us to concentrate on the powerful lyric until the end, when a plain restatement of the tune gives us a suitable chance to reflect upon the ghostly visitation.
Theres not a duff track on this cd, but of the rest I especially enjoyed The Scarecrow, Graeme Miles bleak view of the farmers friend (by no means the first nor, I suspect, the last), the tune set Norfolk/ The Gaspe Reel ? always a joy to hear a bit of Leadbelly ? and the final carol Hark, Hark What News, which