You are here: Albums > Display Review

Brian Cope of Folk London

reviews Beyond the quay by Tom & Barbara Brown

This is the fourth album from Tom and Barbara and unless one includes their popular compilation of West Country songs, the first one that is thematic in approach. There is always a risk I feel with building an album around a subject, in making sure that the material is sufficiently varied to maintain interest. The Browns have achieved this on a variety of fronts, using a successful balance of unaccompanied and accompanied songs, solo and duet performances, and versions of songs that span the familiar to the less so. As might be expected, the majority of the material is traditional with the exception of Redd Sullivan’s heartfelt polemical ‘Firing the Mauritania’, Joseph Geoghegan’s ‘Ten Thousand Miles’ and Tom’s own 7-minute epic ‘Padstow Bar to Lundy Light’ cleverly coupled with ‘Wreck of the Montagu’. Of the traditional material, the Devon variant of ‘The Herring’s Head’ nestles comfortably with ‘Little Fishes’ made famous by actor cum ‘folk singer’ Spencer Tracey, and Broadside Ballads ‘Ship in Distress’ and ‘Bold Princess Royal’. Although their performance is competently complemented by musicians such as the Askew sisters and Keith Kendrick, the thing that is consistent with the Browns is, what you hear on the CD is what you heard in the club and what you heard in the club you take home on the CD. Enjoy one and you can’t fail to enjoy the other.