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Chris “Yorkie” Bartram of Shreds and Patches - Issue 45

reviews Pride of the Season by Jack Crawford

Originally from Lincolnshire and now living in Derbyshire, Jack Crawford is a terrific singer of traditional songs. He is also a very knowledgeable and astute researcher; member of the National Council of the EFDSS and a trustee of the Ralph Vaughan-Williams Library. He sings unaccompanied usually but is joined on some tracks here by Mary Humphreys and Anahata, who provide some lovely vocal and instrumental accompaniments. He has put together a wonderful set of twelve traditional songs plus Cyril Tawney’s little-heard gem The Suit Of Grey.
In fact, Jack owes more than a little to the late Mr Tawney. His vocal style reminds me quite a lot of Cyril – including a hint of Devon accent at times! He has a similar warm and melodious voice with a nasal tone and vibrato that reminds me of the style of singing that many people adopted in the 1970s. So it is no surprise to read that Jack has been singing regularly in folk clubs and sessions for 40 years (though, until recently, he has concentrated more on the Morris, dancing and playing). And he has clearly spent a lot of time and thought researching songs. His sleeve-notes demonstrate the care and passion he puts into his songs, delineating not only their sources but also the influence of subsequent interpreters. They are a model of careful and informative documentation. Oh, how I wish others might follow his example!
Jack seems to prefer slower paced, rather downbeat and poetic songs so, although there are a couple of quite jolly tracks, the overall feel of the CD is rather restrained. I think this might be partly an artefact of the recording process too. I know from personal experience that, singing in a studio without an audience, it is difficult to really open up so it is not surprising that the dynamics are not quite what you might hear from Jack in sessions. However, this is a relative matter – compared to many CDs I’ve heard recently, this one is truly thrilling.
Very highly recommended.