Phil Thomas of The Living Tradition
reviews Dusty Diamonds by Martin & Shan GraebeThis second album from Martin and Shan is a self?confessed and unashamed `raid' on the cobweb?ridden corners of the collections of Sabine Baring?Gould and Cecil Sharp and it contains some gems. Martin and Shan are real tradition?bearers, allowing simple, tasteful arrangements to permit the melody and words to stand proudly to the fore. The comprehensive and informative sleevenotes make reference to the difficulties the original collectors had in notating the songs they heard and acknowledge the personal imprint the duo (ably assisted by Keith Kendrick, Nick Wyke, Becki Driscoll and Sylvia Needham) have left on the material.
Any such imprint is no distraction. The 'weird' tunes (their description, not mine) of such songs as The Complaining Maid are challenging to listen to (and sing, I'm sure) and worth the effort. A Frigate Well Manned is another song that repays repeated listening. I have admired Martin's songwriting for some years and particularly enjoyed his two original songs on this album ('Shropshire Union' and the really memorable `Great Galleon of Plymouth').
I'm sure they will shift plenty of these at their gigs. Yet another tip of the hat to Doug Bailey at Wild Goose Studios ...he doesn't seem to put a foot wrong these days.