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Dai Jeffries of Rock n Reel

reviews Beyond the quay by Tom & Barbara Brown

Tom and Barbara have been around for years, part of the lifeblood of folk clubs and festivals since the 70s. They’ve been part of innovative projects and done the unglamorous jobs at festivals and, because what they do might now be considered unfashionable, it’s easy to forget what good performers they are. Their fourth duo album has a nautical theme with broadsides and ballads, girls left behind and embarrassing shipwrecks. Among those innovative projects was Over the Bar from which come two songs composed by Tom, ‘Padstow Bar to Lundy Light’ and ‘Wreck of The Montague’, put together in a ten-minute track that’s one of the highlights of the record. Later comes ‘Firing the Mauritania’ by Redd Sullivan, describing the job he actually did in the 1920s. Other top tracks are the opening ‘The Chesapeake And Shannon’ and the old favourite, ‘Little Fishes’. Support comes from the Askew Sisters and Keith Kendrick among others but Tom and Barbara are more than capable of holding a stage unaided. Here, the guests add contrasting musical textures – flute, fiddle and percussion – without detracting from the essence of Tom and Barbara’s performances.