Graham Oldham of Shreds & Patches
reviews West Country Night Out by Tom & Barbara BrownNearly 200 miles from Dorset to Cornwall - this is a vast area to draw from, but this CD centres on Devon, where Tom and Barbara have returned to live. I've lived in Devon, Dorset and Somerset, so I have delved into their folk traditions for some years: Bampton, for example, still hosts a weekly singing session. And this is a fine snapshot of their wares, enhanced by accompanied and unaccompanied, accomplished, precision singing, particularly Barbara's rich, deep honey voice, uncluttered harmonising, and the unobtrusive but adroit work of musicians of noble standing, Ralph Jordan to name but one.
The whole is well-balanced, using all genres - there's an adequate dash of Music Hall: Lamorna; When Mother And Me Joined In; Soap, Starch and Candles; comedy such as Old Game Cock, nationally famous ballads like Pleasant and Delightful and Farmers Boy (each beautifully and movingly executed); and the poignantly "true" Wives of St Ives -an all-male song from an all-male choir - to name a few.
Of 21 tracks, 12 have been released on their previous CDs, but don't let that deter you: the quality and value of this compilation makes it a real gem! Finally, for the record, my favourite is Sir Francis Drake / The Bold Privateer - the first being sung to a roped drum, the second with the addition of the fiddle - both awesomely presented.