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Isobel Stone of Shreds and Patches

reviews The Heart Gallery by Hen Party

I first listened to this C.D. with some trepidation, female voices in harmony being my least favourite listening material, In fact it sat on my coffee table, daring me to play it, for over it week. Eventually I relented, having become increasingly curious about the diversity of its content. Could contemporary, traditional, popular and music hall songs, all sung in a cappella harmony, happily rub shoulders? Would Ray Nobles classic Love Is the Sweetest Thing stick out like a sore thumb alongside the hauntingly beautiful All Things Are Quite Silent? And would the Chocolate Sony be too gooey for words? In fact would I simply chicken out of reviewing Hen Partys C.D. and send it back to Sheila?

Well, sixteen tracks and several chocolate bars later, I have to admit that this female folk group pulls the whole thing off extremely well. And what is the super glue binding these songs together? Why, LOVE of course! The entire collection tells of the taking, faking and making of it. The talented Hen Party ladies, seasoned performers Sarah Morgan, Alison Muir and Heather Bradford, have been in harmony since 1995, each having a unique style. Alison sang in a duo with Sheila March throughout the 70s before joining the harmony group Bread and Roses, and Sarah (also a former member of Bread and Roses) has performed in folk theatre acid sung with various acts, including Appalachian vocalist Mary Eagle and fiddle player Mike OConnor. Heather was a singer with the 70s folk/blues band Hannington Light, and brings a lilting, punky edge to the Hen Party sound. Their blended voices can roar raucously or peel out like silver bells. For me, the eerie Down The Long Road, by Bob Davenport, was clearly the winner, but with such wonderful songs as William Taylor; Greenwood Laddie and The Blacksmith together with Rick hemps mournful Somewhere Along The Road, and Clarke and Leighs melodic Come From The Heart, there is something on thus C.D. to appeal to everyone. However, as it is completely in a cappella harmony, you may wish to dib into it as opposed to listening to it all at once, but do listen for it is a most entertaining and innovative performance, with an eternal theme.