Jacqueline Patten. of EDS EFDSS
reviews Susie Fair by Maggie Sand and SandragonTo create a rich sound that crosses the boundaries of traditional and early music requires exceptional talent, insight into both genres of music,and the dedication to persist until the right blend has been achieved. On Susie Fair, Maggie Sand and Sandragon demonstrate that they have all three requisites.
Maggie Sand,who provides both the lead and backing vocals, also plays the harmonium and bouzouki. She is joined by Malcolm Bennett, Will Hughes, Anthar Kharana, Mark Powell and Will Summers; between them the instruments covered are guitar, mandola, hurdy-gurdy, flute, recorders, crumhorns, tarabouka and percussion. For anyone considering purchasing the album, that mix sets the tone.
Of the twelve tracks, ten are traditional English songs while two are French; one a song, one a dance tune. All settings are arranged by Maggie Sand and Mark Powell; the song notes give concise details of sources. The performances are superb, as are the arrangements, and some of the quieter songs, such as 'Bushes and Briars' and 'If I were a Blackbird' are exquisite. Maggie studied music in France, a fact that the two French tracks belie; 'A la Porte au Palais' and 'Les Garcons de Montagne' transport the listener to the French countryside. No less is the listener transported to the English countryside while listening to the other tracks. The blend of English traditional songs and hi-energy dance tunes with arrangements in mediaeval and Renaissance styles, heightens the sense of history, both social and political, portrayed in the songs.
Most, if not all,of the English traditional songs should be familiar to the reader of this magazine. There will, however, be some surprises; for example, 'Dance to your Daddy' is taken at a much slower pace than often,and the musical interludes on such tracks as 'The Rigs of the Time' and 'A Rosebud in June' create a welcome addition. It is an album that will become a much-played favourite for those drawn to the cross-over of styles. Those for whom such a cross-over is viewed with hesitation might find that this is the album that will change their minds.