Clive Pownceby of EDS (EFDSS)
reviews Dusty Diamonds by Martin & Shan Graebe'For this, our second CD together, we have mined the collections of Sabine Baring?Gould and Cecil Sharp for these little gems' say the artists in their liner notes to this rewarding release. The title comes from 'Down in the Coal Mine', noted at Hambridge, Somerset, in 1903 from Louie Hooper and Lucy White, and in Sharp's manuscripts but unpublished ?presumably because of his note 'not, of course a folk song.'
What you'll hear from these two singers decidedly is folk song and they have produced a potent, heartfelt album; a cohesive work, not just a grab?bag of odds and sods. Continuing themes from their first recording Parallel Lines, though not a strict sequel, theirs is a fresh and beautifully realised approach to English traditional song, mainly from the south?west. Featuring solos and harmonies, facilitated by additional voices, fiddle and concertina, the Graebes' CD show a deep understanding of the tradition, with arrangements and accompaniments directing the listener to the essence of the material ?and what material!
'Among the Green Hay', sung exquisitely by Shan, perfectly complements the melody behind and similarly `The Lark in the Morn' sounds as organic and natural as possible, with the partners' vocals making for an emotional whole, rather than 'style over substance' singing.
The choice blend of subject matter, an ample booklet with photos of the source singers and a scholarly overview demonstrating an appreciation of core values, should all endear Martin and Shan to you. They've surely found a place in this reviewer's heart.