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Keith Kendrick of Mardles

reviews Crux by Crucible

I really like this band , not just for their command of their art but also for the fact that they are all incredibly nice people with little or no visible ego! A major thing I pick up on yet again is their obvious respect for, and joy in, performing their music. What a delight!

This collection is packed with taste, talent, enthusiastic research and plain honest to goodness commitment. There are, and always have been, many great instrumental bands, acapela groups, performers and groups with an acute sense of story telling in their delivery of the songs and highly skilful writing ability. Very few can tick all the boxes as convincingly as this lot.

What about the CD? Well, once more, there are examples here of everything thats identifiable with English music performance at its finest. We open with a stunning rendition of John Kirkpatricks `Georges Son. They have clearly put their own stamp on it thereby giving it new life and validation. Ron Angels `Chemical Workers Song and the psalm `Within The Shadowed Secrecy are two particularly excellent but very different examples of their unique acapela harmony style ? very crisp but with enough of a round edge not to be too clean or clinical. Then theres the instrumental offerings like the trio of morris tunes ? Richard Arrowsmiths command of his melodeon here is daunting. Theres a wonderful rendition of one of my favourite old Irish court dance tunes ? `The Hunt. This is coupled with a very nice delivery of `Mrs Casey which suddenly, yet seamlessly, picks up speed before steaming into the song `Jack Come Sell Your Fiddle. In the `Thieves Song Gavin Davenport displays his considerable writing talent, also revealing a hitherto (apparently) unexplored penchant for political and social comment.

Three other tracks are particularly worth a mention: `A Fair Maid Walking a super variant of the old favourite `No Sir No from the singing of Steve Gardham of Hull, a wonderfully soulful version of `Sorry The Day I was Married with some lovely two part stuff from Helena Reynolds and Jess Arrowsmith using a tuned played by Nancy Kerr called Gan To The Kye, and `The 141 of November all with excellent and intuitive arrangements. The latter features some particularly keen five string viola by Helena.

The quality of this CD as a product is not solely down to the band. It goes without saying, for anyone who has listened to much of his production work, that Doug Baileys standards have always been well high ? he has excelled himself with this one! A great joint mixing job between Doug and the lads makes this a clear contender, surely, for CD of the Year.