Dai Woosnam of Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews
reviews Songs from the Derbyshire Coast by Keith KendrickI was going to start this review by saying that Keith Kendrick is a proud member of the Swiss Navy. Then I remembered that Switzerland does have a small navy of sorts.
But for all you non-Brits reading this, let me quickly explain that I am alluding to the title of this fine album. Derbyshire does not have a coastline, since it is almost the most inland of all the counties of England. And even in flood, the tiny River Erewash that separates it from Nottinghamshire, is not exactly the mighty Amazon Delta, to be mistaken for the sea. But it is a clever title: it sets out the stall of this CD, since many of the songs have a nautical aspect to them. A nautical aspect that is, of course, to be expected from such an expert shantyman such as KK.
And the cleverness doesnt end with the title. KK has been very astute in adding to the fine contributions of his usual female duettists, by recruiting the help of (some time occasional collaborators) Cross Othe Hands, a four piece Derbyshire ceilidh band (and SO much more) who are truly top-drawer. And Keith has also been very astute in coming up with a nicely balanced choice of - mostly familiar - songs. At the end of playing the CD three times, I had many favourite tracks.
Initially I had gone for his (and Sylvia Needhams) version of that old Copper Family standard, The Echoin Horn. But then, on second and third listenings, I had found that there was a strong case to be made for his version of the traditional Beulah Land (not to be confused with the equally wonderful old hymn of the same name by Edgar P. Stites) that I sang as a boy with such fervour in my Welsh non-conformist chapel. So no, my bit of self-indulgence over it aint THAT one. Rather, it is the Beulah Land made famous in American Folk circles by the singing of the late much-revered Helen Schneyer. And it is almost as good a song as the 1876 hymn. And here it is made very memorable by some inspired fiddle playing by Sarah Matthews of Cross Othe Hands.
WildGoose would not be WildGoose without presenting me with an album that has at least one song on it that arrives at me from left field and takes my breath away. Here, that song is something called The Sailors Prayer, written by formerly New York-based, but recently moved to Florida, Rod MacDonald. Golly, I can see this becoming a standard on the UK Folk scene. WildGoose are also true to form in providing very legible and classy liner notes. However, supremo Doug Bailey has taken his eye off the ball slightly by allowing a cappella to be misspelled in the notes on the MacDonald song. It strikes me, given the nature of the WildGoose catalogue, that this is the ONE term that should always be properly spelt! Yes, a cheap shot from me, I know. For we can all make simple spelling errors, me included.
But Doug will perhaps be a little concerned that when, visited by a non-folkie friend when that very song was playing, I was asked if it was Lynne Heraud or Sylvia Needham who was singing harmony. I replied that I thought it was the latter, but to be sure, my friend should look up the credits inside the back page of the liner notes. And guess what? Nobody is credited for track 10 vocal harmony! Okay, the liner notes earlier do give the clue that it is indeed Sylvia, but Doug will be anxious to ensure that this blip in his usual 100% professional presentation will not recur.
But talking of recurring: I can only hope that there are many more visits to the recording studios for KK, for he has never been in better voice and never has his concertina playing been more accomplished.