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Colin Andrews of Whats Afoot

reviews Fenlandia by Mary Humphreys & Anahata

As with their previous 3 albums, Mary & Anahata offer a superb collection of well?researched traditional songs, this time focussing particularly on material collected over 100 years from the Fenlands. The foot-tapping tune sets, too, have a 'local' flavour, despite the fact that some have travelled from Mary's native Wales.

I'd probably enjoy listening to any songs from Mary, whose delivery always seems so natural and sympathetic to the subject, but she has the knack of finding unfamiliar versions of wellknown songs that give added interest. The Nutting Song, Hey Down Derry (An Old Man Came Courting Me) and The Cuckoo & The Nightingale (Catch Me If You Can) are but such examples on this CD. The latter, apparently, has never been recorded before. The Hungry Army, originally a broadside but reconstructed (and relocated) from fragments collected from Mrs Charlotte Dann, is a song I'd not heard before at all.

As always with Mary & Anahata, the instrumental accompaniments, with English concertina or banjo, anglo concertina, melodeon or cello, cannot be faulted, and never detract from the words. Dave & Gina Holland lend additional instrumental support on some tracks, and Doug Bailey adds a voice to some choruses!

See Mary & Anahata live at Bideford Folk Festival.