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Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest

reviews Tide of Change by Tom & Barbara Brown

There are some CDs that come up for review which you know from the very first track that you are going to enjoy. This is one such. Ive known Tom and Barbara for over 25 years having met them at an early Song & Ale in Wiltshire. Eric Bogles opening song, Sound of Singing, illustrated exactly what they are about and what their long running Song & Ales were about (they still go on in Northamptonshire but under new management!) which is enjoyment of and participation in our wonderful folk song heritage.

This is their 3rd CD and is as diverse in material as their previous ones. We have everything from grand chorus songs like the first track and In Friendships Name through to classic ballads such as Barbara Allen and Lowlands of Holland including also humorous ditties like Cluster of Nuts and Rusty Ol Knife.

There are also songs of controversy including the title track Tide of Change a realistic and poignant work basically about rural de-population written by Hilary Bix and Toms own Ex [sic], Barle and Bray which he developed from the chorus of an Exmoor hunting song. This latters pro-hunting stance is one that I have to disagree with but it still makes a good song! The more obscure material includes Song of the Flail which is obviously a rhythmic work song.

All are sung with the usual professionalism and enthusiasm from these two with close harmonies, intelligent arrangements, lots of accompaniments from Toms wide repertoire of instruments and occasional help from Joan and Keith Holloway, Anahata, Lynne Heraud, Ralph Jordan, Barry Lister and Paul Sartin - in fact a large percentage of the Wild Goose mafia!

Erudite, attractively illustrated and sometimes highly amusing sleeve notes give a full account of the songs rounding off another superb album in good style.

O.K. I know the sceptics among you will say, Well of course its a good review theyre Giffs mates, and indeed that is true but when you are reviewing an album like this anything other than overall praise would not be justified. Yes, there are blemishes like a couple of the songs feel oer long and there are a few occurrences when Barbaras voice sounds a little strained but to dwell on these would be petty and pernickety. So there!

If youre already a fan of the Browns then Im sure it wont be long before this CD is on your shelf and if you arent then go and see them when they are in our area again and by the end of another good night youll want to take one home with you!