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Jacqueline Patten of Whats Afoot

reviews West Country Night Out by Tom & Barbara Brown

The title of this album could not be more fitting: a West Country Night Out is exactly where this CD transports the listener. A night out that lifts the spirits and lingers well beyond the immediate experience. Moreover, with the album readily in their collection, a night out can be enjoyed at any time by anyone.

Comprising 21 tracks, many are firm favourites, associated with the West Country by people far and wide, such as Lamorna, Tavistock Guzie Fair and Widecombe Fair. Some will be new to the majority of the audience: for example, Bampton Fair, written by Paul Wilson in the 1970s, and Barnstaple Fair, first published in a local paper in the 1930s. There are three instrumental numbers, Dorset 4?hand Reel, Where Umber Flows by Barbara Brown and March of the Men of Devon; humour abounds in items like Mortal Unlucky Old Chap, and a song from the pen of `Jan Stewer' (A.J.Coles of Puddington) When Mother and Me Joined In; while all will make nearly everyone join in or tap their feet.

To add further delight, Tom and Barbara are joined by about eighteen singers and instrumentalists, surely a reflection that eleven of the tracks have previously been issued on other CDs: it would be a rare occasion to have so many excellent performers in the same place at the same time. This is a project that could so easily have been misguided, with many of the songs having a special place in the hearts of the listeners, there is the chance of disappointment or contempt. With the excellent understanding of Tom & Barbara for both the material and their audience, there is no danger of that happening.

The robust and enthusiastic performances, however, breathe new life to old songs. As the lyrics are available on the Umber Music website (please see below), everyone can join in while enjoying a West Country Night Out in their own home.