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Colin Andrews of Whats Afoot

reviews BitterSweet by Bob & Gill Berry

Many long-serving folkies will remember Bob's parents, Len & Barbara Berry, as stalwarts of the folk scene, but to describe Bob & Gill thus would seem inadequate to describe considerable contribution to folk music in southern England. From the Devizes Folk Club, which they started in 1992, the Wiltshire Folk Arts organisation, and  most prominently, as organisers of the Chippenham Folk Festival, one of the biggest traditional events in the country, they have been tireless workers, but a role which has regrettably restricted their opportunity to perform.

They are both strong and accomplished singers and this album ably demonstrates their talent and versatility. There are 5 traditonal songs, not particularly well?known apart from Tom's Gone To Hilo, but it's the variety and quality of the 'contemporary' material that really sets this CD apart. I particularly like the gentler Dockyard Wall by Shep Woolley and Alan Bell's Song of Time, but the Winter Man by Chris Leslie is powerful stuff, and Andy Mitchel paints a tragic but all-too-familiar picture of the evils of drink in his song, Calum More.

Some songs are solo performances, others in pleasing two-part harmony, and on many tracks there is sympathetic accompaniment variously by Bob (guitar or bouzouki), Anahata (cello), Keith Kendrick (concertinas), Paul Sartin (fiddle, oboe), Jo Veal (clarinet) and Pete Harris (bass guitar). Let us hope that the album encourages Bob & Gill to return to more live performances.