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Mike Blair of Shire Folk

reviews Beyond the quay by Tom & Barbara Brown

Tom and Barbara are not only experienced performers of traditional folk songs, but also dedicated to collecting, restoring and preserving them.

This collection of 16 maritime songs – and “not a shanty in sight” – shows what a wealth of material there is, and how well they know it. The single theme on this, their 4th CD with WildGoose, is certainly no bar to maintaining interest. There is a huge variety of songs, both serious and fun, from lost love and liberty, to epic voyages of discovery, fishing or transportation, and of course, not forgetting the cross-dressing maid who signs on to follow her sailor love!

Fine unaccompanied harmony singing is ably matched by Tom’s guitar, melodeon and concertina playing, and guest appearances from the Askew sisters and Keith Kendrick.

Tom and Barbara are very entertaining live performers, with loads of choruses and humour. They have done well in choosing and arranging this selection, some familiar, some not so, to produce a jolly good listen. Very interesting sleeve notes explain the origins and history of the songs, but there is nothing staid or academic here, just pure entertainment for those of us who love a good tale, far-fetched or otherwise.