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Jane Kremer and Dave Thomas of The Folk Mag

reviews Songs from the Derbyshire Coast by Keith Kendrick

We really ought to start off by admitting to being great fans of Keith's. A new album from Keith is always something to look forward to hearing. The title of the CD is a wonderful example of his sense of humour, and the case is illustrated with maps of Derbyshire in which Staffordshire has mysteriously sunk. with a ship anchoring in the vicinity of Flash Bar! Half the review team, however, failed to realise that the county is actually landlocked.

The title is, however, the excuse for including several shanties and other sea songs. Some of the shanties, such as Bold Reilly, would perhaps not satisfy the purists, but others, like the unusual version of A Hundred Years Ago, could come straight off the deck of a four-master.

The CD is so very Keith, and the recording so good, that he could be performing in front of you, his personality shines through so much. Planned to be predominantly a solo album, Keith is joined on various tracks by many recognisable voices, too many to mention by name, with whom he has appeared with in the past.

The tracks are well balanced, giving an impressive look at the diversity of style Keith is capable of. They range from a'capella duet through choruses to instrumentals. They also show a great depth of knowledge and research. You will find unusual versions on more than one track; this is not a CD where you can glance at the titles and tick them off as "know that", "heard that": each needs to be listened to. Even songs where the words are well known are given an original twist: Cyril Tawney's Sally Free and Easy has some breathtaking harmony work that leaves the listener gasping, especially at that last chord! The description of the whale hunt in Coast of Peru is brutal and definitely not for the squeamish, but it is an example of Keith's genius that he chooses to follow it with Awake, Arise from the Sheffield carol tradition, which is equally evocative in its own way.

If you have never heard Keith before, this CD is an excellent introduction to an all round performer. If you have heard him then you probably have some idea what you are missing by not listening to it!