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Rob Mitchell of Whats on in Kent

reviews Sharp Practice by Mary Humphreys & Anahata

Mary and Anahata, having long established their individual reputations in the English Folk tradition, brought together their considerable skills (Mary ? vocals, ?English Concertinas, keyboard, banjo; Anahata Melodeons, Angio Concertina and Cello) in 2001. This new album is a credit to those skills, demonstrating a robust, heartfelt expression of traditional songs and tunes, some previously neglected, some newly arranged, but all presented with clarity, respect and musical wit.
Cecil Sharp (whose vast contribution to the genre is acknowledged in the albums title) would, Im sure, have felt at home with these renditions. Anahatas simple, wistful cello and Marys soulful vocals in Barbry Ellen result in quite the finest version of this popular song that Ive ever heard. The eclectic range of dance tunes bursts with life, consistently avoiding the plodding dryness which can so easily characterise the playing of yet another English Dance tune.
Throughout, Marys voice has exactly the right feeling of the traditional English (and I believe shes Welsh!) song. Sensitive and useful contributions on fiddle, flute and recorder, from Dave and Gina Holland, complement the sheer musicality of this excellent work from two fine musicians. Enjoy!