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Mick Ryan of Folk on Tap

reviews Sharp Practice by Mary Humphreys & Anahata

I thoroughly enjoyed this. The material is unusual, carefully chosen and well balanced, while the arrangements, singing and playing are always highly skilled and sometimes very special.
Over and above her expert prowess on banjo and concertina, Mary is a fine singer. Her solo performance of `Pride of the Season, a powerful lyrical ballad, is perfectly paced and timed.
Anahata, meanwhile, is a very gifted musician. In amongst the various ensemble instrumental pieces, which are, in themselves, very fine, there are a couple tracks where we are treated (and I mean treated) to lengthy solos where he shows just how much can be achieved in what I would describe as a `pure English style of melodian playing. These interludes are little masterpieces, not to say master?classes, of musicianly understatement. Brilliant!
There are plenty of rare and beautiful songs and tunes here; but my personal favourites are those which combine Marys powers of musical storytelling with Anahatas highly expressive cello playing. `No My Love Not I features the unusual, but strangely compelling, accompanying combination of banjo and cello; and it works a treat.
But the absolute gem of this collection, for me, is a wonderful version of `Barbry Ellen with Marys singing set to perfection by Anahatas haunting solo cello.
All in all, this album exemplifies good taste and musicianship of a very high order indeed.