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of Dirty Linen

reviews The Voyage by Fieldwork

This is a feast year for Ryans fans; theres yet another CD from his prolific mind, hand and voice. It’s “The Voyage” [Wild Goose Studios WGS 290 CD (1998)] by the group Fieldwork, made up of songs from a musical drama written by Ryan. The drama and its songs concern emigration from Ireland and England in the mid-19th century. It features a cast of good singers, including Ryan; a weakness of the sleeve notes is that they dont identify the lead singers on any of the tracks, so I cant comment on anyone in particular. But the songs themselves are a really nice use of Traditional themes and turns of phrase; I wouldnt lie down and I couldnt lie down”, and “if Id any pride then I shouldnt lie down from the song Lying Down, echoes Matty Groves I cant get up and I wont get up, I wouldnt get up for my life, while How Deeps the Sea takes the form of a classic riddle ballad like Riddles Wisely Expounded or “Captain Wedderburns ::. Courtship” The other comparison invited by any project of this sort, particularly with a theme like this one, is with Peter Bellamys classic musical drama The Transports” Happily, this one stands up rather well to such a comparison; When We Take em Over, like Bellamys Roll Down, is a fine outward-bound neoshanty, and some of Ryans characters, like the Old Soldier, are as memorable as Bellamys were. Finally, in a non-comparative vein, songs like The Sea are simply harrowing, moving, and memorable. This is the ballad opera concept at its best.