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Jacqueline Patten of EDS in 2007

reviews Dead Maid's Land by Paul Wilson & Marilyn Tucker

Songs of the West Heritage Project was a two year programme co-ordinated by Wren Trust, which brought together Wren Trust, Devon Libraries, the Baring-Gould family and the National Trust to provide a microfiche copy of the song collection and related material accumulated by Sabine Baring-Gould. This album draws from that collection. Not only does it draw attention to the significant role that Baring-Gould had as a song collector at the turn of the twentieth century, it also shows that his collection continues to be relevant at the beginning of twenty-first century.

To make a selection for this album from such an abundance of material could not have been easy. The balance of light-hearted with more serious songs is to be commended. They were chosen and arranged by Paul Wilson, the musical director. He has done justice to the collection at the same time as pleasing his audience. Many of the songs are local variants of widely known songs, while `The Old Ewe', 'When I Was Young' and `My Lady's Coach' provide insight into West Country life. Together the songs provide a delightful picture of nineteenth-century rural life. To the songs are added two hornpipes from another West Country manuscript, the tune book of local fiddler, William Andrews. Both are played in a light and crisp style.

The 'friends' who perform with Marilyn and Paul are Tim Laycock, Chris Foster, Martin Graebe, Phil Humphries, Ellen Thompson and Bob Tinker, plus six singers from a local choir. Instruments used in the arrangements are the fiddle, cello, concertina, accordion, guitar, cittern, tabor, recorder, trombone, trumpet and serpent. The arrangements enhance the quality of the songs in a way that the original singers and Baring-Gould would surely have approved.

It is to be hoped that other albums based on the collection will follow . . . soon.