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Derek Gifford of Folk North West

reviews The Axford Five by The Askew Sisters & Craig Morgan Robson

Now here’s an interesting combination of performers, the superb instrumental talent of The Askew Sisters blending with the strong vocal harmonies of (Moira) Craig, (Sarah) Morgan and (Carolyn) Robson. They perform a collection of songs from Hampshire originally sung by Sarah Goodyear, Marty Munday, Elizabeth Randall, Charlotte Hall and Emma Hopkins who were known collectively as ‘The Axford Five’. The songs were collected by George Gardiner.

There’s a really rich mixture of love and loss songs, murder and mischief songs, and blatantly risque material. There are versions of many well known songs here such as ‘The Gypsy Laddie’ (also known as the ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsies’), ‘Long Lankie’ well sung by Moira with an effective simple fiddle accompaniment from Emily, ‘Bold William Taylor’ with an interesting tune, ‘Lord Derwentwater‘, ‘An Old man Came Courting Me’ appropriately sung by young Hazel (!) , ‘The Lowlands of Holland’ and ‘Sweet Lovely Joan’ which suits the fiddle combined with Gothic harp accompaniment from Emily and Hazel. Of these ‘The Lowlands of Holland’ is a memorable rendition with lovely harmonies from Craig, Morgan, Robson and Carolyn sings a classic version of ‘Abroad As I was Walking’ with an understated sensitive accompaniment by the Askews.

‘Down the Lane’ is a new song to me reminiscent of ‘Abroad For Pleasure’ and is well performed by Craig et. al. once again showing their penchant for great harmony singing.

The song ‘He Was Under My Window’ is new to me as it is, apparently, to the performers because as they say in the sleeve notes ‘..we have not been able to trace any other information about this song..’ any ideas anyone out there?

They all join on the last track with a lively performance of the saucy ‘The Trooper’s Horse’ rounding off an excellent album.

Doug Bailey has captured the voices and instruments perfectly as he always does and the accompanying notes on the songs are as full and informative as you would expect from any Wild Goose production.