Dave Sutherland of Traditions at the Tiger
reviews Pride of the Season by Jack CrawfordTowards the back of the sleeve booklet accompanying this album there are a few notes about Jack Crawford informing us where he now lives, to whom the recording is dedicated, his status within the main body of the EFDSS and that he is a resident singer at Long Eaton’s Traditions at the Tiger folk club. So how does one go about reviewing an album by a fellow resident? In this case it is quite easy as whether it had been made by a close friend or had it just dropped through the letterbox I would say the same thing; that it is, by any standards a superb effort!
Released on the prestigious WildGoose label it has been in excess of forty years for Jack to make his maiden recording and it has been worth the wait. As expected from such a dedicated and uncompromising singer of traditional folk songs it is exactly that which makes up the bulk of the album; in fact there is only one contemporary song present and that is Cyril Tawney’s “Suit of Grey” a lesser known item from the vast output of that fine songwriter. Otherwise it is a collection of substantial traditional songs ranging from the reasonably well known “The Bold Dragoon”, “The Isle of France”, ”Annan Water” and “A Brisk Young Widow” to versions of “The Ploughman’s Love”, “The Valiant Sailor” and “The Deluded Lover” which you might have heard previously in a folk club but not quite in this form.
While much of the CD features Jack in solo mode there is the inspired inclusion of Mary Humphreys and Anahata providing accompaniment on certain tracks, none more so than on Mary’s own arrangement of “When Fishes Fly” making it one of the standout songs in the collection.
In the notes Jack talks at length about his passion for researching songs and the history that surrounds them and this is well evident as each song is carefully and informatively documented. However as well as acknowledging the song’s source or source singer it is endearing that he pays tribute to the contribution of a number of revival singers, Heather Wood, Peter Bellamy, Nic Jones and mentions to the memories of Royston Wood and Sid Long.
A cert for my top five come December (that five are becoming a most eclectic collection) and undoubtedly one that should feature highly in the opinions of those who are serious about preservation and promotion of traditional folksong. It also shows how fortunate we are to have Jack as a resident at TATT.