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Colin Andrews of Whats Afoot

reviews Beyond the quay by Tom & Barbara Brown

Although they live just up the road at Combe Martin, itís quite rarely that I hear Tom & Barbara sing, and it often takes a CD such as this to remind me what accomplished performers they are.

This album is, I think, their best yet, with the nautical theme offering a splendid variety of largely less well known traditional songs, of which I especially enjoyed Little Fishes and The Spirits of Georgeís Bank. Even The Blackbird was a poignant minor-key variation on the almost music hall sounding familiar version. The Bonny Sailor Laddie is another song where a real gem of a tune hides behind an unremarkable title. Thereís ample light relief from the perils of the deep, transportation and unrequited love in The Herringís Head, and the medley of short songs. Tomís own compositions, Padstow Bar to Lundy Light & Wreck of the Montagu are also particularly pleasing, with strong local connections.

With unaccompanied pieces, two-part harmony, Tomís own accomplished guitar, melodeon and concertina accompaniment (also the harpeleik whatever that may be!), and support from Keith Kendrick, the Askew sisters, etc. on various instruments, this is a very well balanced album that further enhances Tom & Barbaraís already strong reputation as fine singers of great songs.