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Mick Tems of Taplas review

reviews Fenlandia by Mary Humphreys & Anahata

Mary and Anahata live in Cambridgeshire, close to the neighbouring counties of Suffolk and Norfolk - and the more they seem to be settled in the country, the more their music seems to be simple, pared-down, beautiful and timeless. Fenlandia is a delightful pun that hints of the composer Sibelius painting pictures of the frozen north, coupled with windswept windmills, flintstone churches and wide open spaces that are so characteristic of East Anglia.
Mary and Anahata trawl through nine traditional songs and tunes, though Mary uses her Celtic influence to include a sparkling Welsh Gem, The March of the Men of Devon (Ymdaith Gwyr Dyfnaint) and two Llewelyn Alaw pieces, Tafarn Y Wheatsheaf and Rasus Doncaster. Even Sun Assembly, a stately English country dance, smacks of the Welsh Masters Crasdant.


But the five East Anglian songs, which fenland collector Ella Bull noted of Charlotte Dann (ne Few), a domestic servant working for the Bull family, really have something going for them - Nutting Songs, The Cuckoo and the Nightingale which has never been recorded before - The Hungry Army, Lucy Wan and Hey Down Derry. A majestic, fragile voice and a master musician of great versatility; you can't fault it!