Derek Gifford of Folk NorthWest
reviews BitterSweet by Bob & Gill BerryBob and Gill Berry are probably best known as the principal organisers of Chippenham Folk Festival but, as with many organisers in the folk world, they are also performers in their own right. This CD took two years to complete indicating the time commitment of festival organisers!
Gill has an attractive resonant voice and with Bobs sensitive harmonies and accompaniments basically very little else is necessary for a rounded and empathic sound. However, on some tracks, other fine musicians are used anyway including Pete Harris on bass guitar, me old partner in crime Keith Kendrick on concertinas who accompanies
John Prossers Englands Glory (yes, it is about matches!) and Shep Woolleys Down by the Dockyard Wall, Paul Sartin of the Wild Goose Mafia on fiddle and oboe (but not at the same time!), Jo Veal adding a Kletzmer feel with her clarinet to Alan Bells Song of Time and Anahata who plays haunting cello on Chris Leslies Winter Man and Fisher Lad of Whitby. This latter was composed by mum Barbara Berry and, as might be expected, included in this album also is her better known I Wondered By A Brookside.
Not to be outdone Bob sings Fair Flora a traditional song learned from his dad Len.
Although I find this CD a fine production overall I do have one or two gripes. With singers like Keith Kendrick and Pete Harris on hand I would have thought they might use them to fill out more choruses - especially the unaccompanied Tom Goes to Hilo. Also the way Gill tackles Andy Mitchells superb Calum More doesnt do it for me and yet the missing angst comes through so well on the traditional classic Brown Girl.
The production is, of course, well up to the Wild Goose high standard with a very attractive cover and elaborate notes on the 14 songs contained therein. Not a CD to set the world on fire (which Im sure wouldnt be Bob and Gills intention anyway) but a very enjoyable listen.