Howard Baker of The Living Tradition
reviews Fenlandia by Mary Humphreys & AnahataThe title of this excellent album is somewhat misleading. The Fens, just in case anyone doesn't know, are a large area of flat land reclaimed from the sea and stretching from north of Cambridge up as far as Lincolnshire. The connection between The Fens and the album is that five of the fourteen tracks were collected in the village of Cottenham on the southern tip of The Fens. The other tracks come from other parts of England and from Wales. The two artistes, Mary Humphreys and Anahata now live in Cambridgeshire and are heavily involved in the local folk scene. This album will bring their undoubted talents to a wider audience.
On the instrumental side, Anahata shows technique and virtuosity and I love the haunting dance tune Sun Assembly.
Mary Humphreys has a voice with plenty of power and variation and handles the full range of songs from rousing chorus to unaccompanied ballad. Her haunting version of Lucy Wan is for me the outstanding vocal track. My one quibble with the songs is the inclusion of a version of Maids When You're Young Never Wed An Old Man. I thought we had left this sexist stuff behind.
Quibbles apart I loved this album and recommend it highly.