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Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest

reviews Beyond the quay by Tom & Barbara Brown

It’s always a pleasure to receive a CD from Wild Goose by these two good friends and this album is no exception. It’s down to the sea and all things nautical (the clue is in the CD title!) on this their 4th album with Wild Goose.

As always the performance on all the tracks is carefully arranged and excellently rendered showing both Tom and Barbara’s long standing experience with folk song whether contemporary in traditional style or purely traditional works.

Tom accompanies with guitar, melodeon, English concertina and harpeleik (a fretless zither) on many tracks but they are also joined by my old partner in crime Keith Kendrick on some. The Askew Sisters have also been (willingly!) roped in with some lovely instrumental accompaniments as well as chorus singing. They’ve even got Doug Bailey to help fill in the choruses, Joan Holloway plays the ’nakkers’ (bones!) on a track or two and Malcolm Woods plays a tenor drum to good effect on the opening track.

The songs are varied and their version of ‘The Herring’s Head’ is almost type cast for these two... bickering in public.. whatever next! The idea of putting a few songs together in the track entitled ‘Short Song Set’ works very well with seamless changes from song to song. One of my favourite tracks ‘The Bold Princess Royal‘, sung a capella by Tom, is a fine example of this song and superbly performed. Likewise, Barbara’s empathic rendition of ‘Little Fishes’, with a subtle concertina accompaniment from Tom, is equally as appealing.

The careful programming of the variety of songs from sad to funny and from slow to up tempo and so on means the album never palls and over an hour of listening passes surprisingly quickly. Add to this interesting and informative sleeve notes from Tom and Barbara and an attractive sleeve design by the talented Hilary Bix and you have almost the perfect album!