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Derek Gifford of Folk North West

reviews Gleowien by Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer

When I first read the title of this latest CD from Vicki and Jonny I thought it was a new way of spelling ‘Gluwein’ - oh good, I thought, this’ll be a wino’s album - just the job for me! It isn’t of course, Gleowien is middle English for making music or to make merry. Ah well, at least I wasn’t totally disappointed because this is an intoxicating album.

All the songs and most of the tunes are penned by Vicki and/or Jonny. Vicki plays Scottish smallpipes, Swedish nyckelharpa (a sort of keyed fiddle - don’t ask!) and wooden flute while Jonny plays guitar, accordion and Swedish cittra ( a chorded zither) with both of them vocalising along the way. Mark Southgate adds bass guitar, Pete Flood percussion and Roy Jones bodhran effectively on some of the tracks.
Of the songs written by Jonny ‘Follow Me Home’ is very catchy and lilts along nicely and his riddle song ‘William’ is equally as good. The other songs are adapted from the Swedish and British traditions with one from a poem by Vicki’s Great Great Grandfather called ‘The ‘Dood’ Night Kiss’.

It is however, the tunes that feature most prominently on this album with the smallpipes and Vicki’s Swedish influences very much to the fore. ‘Fikavalsen’ (Fika is the Swedish act of drinking coffee and eating cinnamon buns) written by Vicki is a lovely tune and ‘Vintage Puget’ which is the name given to a home-made red wine - I knew I’d find some booze in there eventually! - is another cracker. Jonny replies with ‘Time Out’ and ‘Clattering About’ on another track illustrating very well their joint talents as tunesmiths.

This album is so entertaining that I think it might just find its way into my car for a while as ‘music to drive with’. Good stuff.