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Colin Andrews of Whats Afoot

reviews All in a Garden Green by The Askew Sisters

A few issues ago, I reviewed a 6-track sampler CD of Emily and Hazel Askew, and was impressed by the potential of these two young musicians. This is their first full album.

Though both classically trained on other instruments (and indeed both pursuing higher studies in music), they took up violin and melodeon to play folk music, to which they had been exposed since a very early age. Hazel has also developed an interest in singing, and takes the lead vocal on all of the songs on the CD. Emily provides backing vocals on some tracks, and occasionally swaps her fiddle for her cello, to great eftect.

Hazel has a beautiful clear voice, well suited to her choice of material, all taken from English traditional sources. On first casual hearing, I had the impression that her delivery was inclined to be a bit staccato, but on subsequent playings, with my full attention , I could find no fault. My favourite song track undoubtedly is Farewell My Dearest Dear. I know the song well, having sung it myself in harmony for over 30 years, but Hazel really does make it her own - absolutely stunning! The Old Virginia Lowlands comes a close second!
The melodeon and fiddle accompaniments blend well with the vocals but the instruments are given full reign on the tune sets. John Playford's All In A Garden Green is perhaps an unexpected pairing with the medieval horses Branle - but it works! Their other instrumentals also have a long pedigree.

There is now an encouraging number of talented young folk singers and musicians on the club and festival scene. Emily and Hazel Askew can deservedly count among them.