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reviews Call & Cry by Sue Brown & Lorraine Irwing

No fewer than three new releases come from the Hampshire-based WildGoose Studios.  Of the three, my favorite is Call & Cry [Wild Goose WGS 284 (1997)] by Sue Brown and Lorraine Irwing.  The a cappella harmony duet has always been one of my favorite forms of singing; instead of hearing lush chords at every turn, the listener is instead following two separate melodic lines, hearing them both horizontally and vertically, as it were.  For that reason, it is one of the most enjoyable forms of vocal arrangement, lending itself to intertwining melody and harmony.  Brown and Irwing, who are based in Oxford, do great justice to the form on their disc.  They choose mostly traditional English songs to interpret; most are pretty common songs in the revival, like William Taylor”, Searching for Lambs and The Gardener, the last of which they learned from a Maddy Prior record.  Child Ballad enthusiasts will find versions of The Cruel Mother, The Twa Brothers and Scarborough Fair. Three lovely carols, one French ballad, a piece of Hebridean mouth music (Fionnghuala; learned from the Bothy Band), and Stockinger, a very unusual occupational song, round out the collection.  The variety of material and the inventiveness of the arrangements make this CD hold up under repeated listening quite well.