Jim Lawton of Tykes News
reviews Sharp Practice by Mary Humphreys & AnahataFrom the first time I saw Mary sing at the Ripponden folk club I was
taken with her fiery delivery, expressive vocals and instrumental skill.
It is our great good fortune that Anahata, coming from a classical
training and a lifetime with Morris and other bands, forms an ideal
companion for those skills.
The CD comes with copious sleeve notes, describing the couples aim
of presenting a wide range of English music and song and of
recording songs from Anahatas collection and from Marys repertoire
of often unique versions, together with detailed histories for each track.
This is a feast for any fan of traditional songs and music, and its
wonderful to hear English tunes given such a showcase. In those
instrumentals where both artists play squeeze boxes I am reminded of
the intricacies of Martin Ellison and Roger Edwards playing. The
ballad accompaniments provide a wealth of opportunities to display
Marys skill on banjo and keyboards, and Anahatas on cello, the latter
with great emotional effect on a stunning version of Barbry Allen.
As I said, I have heard Mary sing live on several occasions, but I think that the attention to the traditional roots of this music, especially in the ballads, brings out a quality and solidity which I have not remarked before, and which often calls to mind the tone and delivery of Norma Waterson.
>From the jolly Dunmow Galumph to the heartrending Sheath and Knife,
this CD is a masterpiece. I really cant recommend it highly enough.
The couple have a website at www.treewind.co.uk/mha where you can