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Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest

reviews Prevailing Winds by Tom & Barbara Brown

No, the album title has nothing to do with Tom’s digestive system but, at the time of writing having just come back from a mini-tour of the West Country, I can fully agree with their sleeve comments that the wind certainly does prevail from the west! In fact it prevailed from the north-west while I was there so it  was a little ‘cool’. So much for summer!


However, I can assure you, dear reader, that this CD is full of warmth and homeliness as the opening tracks ‘Coming-in Song’ (Barry Temple) and the traditional ‘A Cottage Well Thatched With Straw’ confirm. Their continuing Battle of the Sexes is well represented both in the sleeve notes and the song ‘The Farmer and His Wife’ where Barbara maintains that men have problems with multi-tasking. Rubbish (the concept, not the song), of course, proved by the fact that I am cooking breakfast, ironing and writing this review while cutting the grass!


Whatever your thoughts on hunting  there is no doubt that there are a number of excellent songs on the subject including Tom & Barbara’s older version of ‘Devon and Somerset Staghounds’. There are a number of unusual versions of fairly well known traditional songs on this carefully researched album including probably the nearest you’ll get to the original ‘Pleasant and Delightful’ as sung by the legendary Charlie Bates an interesting variant of  ‘The Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime’.
As befits the West Country from which most of the songs originate, Tom and Barbara have included a bell-ringing song, ‘Egloshayle Ringers’ (again from the prolific Mr. Bates) and a lifeboat song ‘Louisa’s Journey’ which is about the boat being hauled over Exmoor to be launched in calmer waters on the other side - sounds like a similar story from the North York Moors?


Amongst these classic songs are a couple of ‘fun’ ones in ‘Soap, Starch and Candles’ and, one of my personal favourites, ‘Down in the Diving Bell’ which Tom sings with relish - it’s the thought of those mermaids y’know!


As with their first album many of the tracks are accompanied by Tom’s excellent guitar, mandola or English concertina arrangements and backed by a chorus that includes such luminaries as Charley Yarwood, Barry Lister and Cathy Barclay as well as daughter Rowan Walker-Brown. There are also extra accompaniments on some tracks from Keith Holloway, Ralph Jordan, Malcolm Woods and Francis Verdigi. Even one of our ex-local lassies, champion clogger Melanie Barber, gets to step on ‘The Tithe Pig’!


All in all a fine follow up to their debut CD with the help of the team at WildGoose