Mike Everett of Mardles
reviews Cold Fen by Mary Humphreys & AnahataCome with me on a musical mystery tour. A new CD arrives in the post... ooh, Mary and Anahata ? this should be good. A quick look at the tracks to see where we're going. There seems to be a few recognisable names on the way and some new songs and tunes to visit. Then it's off with the cellophane wrapping and slide the CD into the player.
Our journey begins with a tune unique to Cambridgeshire and the song that provides the title for the album, The Lakes of Cold Fen, which many of you will recognise in variants from other places, including Nic
Jones' The Lakes of Shilin. in. We then head off to Norfolk and north Cambridgeshire for a couple of tunes before returning once more to follow in the footsteps or, more accurately, the bicycle tyre prints of Ralph Vaughan Williams as he reaches Fen Ditton for Abroad As I Was Walking. Cambridgeshire also provides us with There Is An Alehouse before reaching a couple of lovely waltzes with local Suffolk place names, the Brandon Waltz and the Bury Waltz. The rest of the song journey keeps us travelling around Cambridgeshire for another six songs, including remarkable variants of Geordie, The Trees They Do Grow High and Rosemary Lane. Although there is a brief excursion to Norfolk for some of the words for The Valiant Sailor, it is the tune sets that take us further afield and further back in time.
Throughout our trip we are accompanied by Mary's voice, as expressive and animated as always, that brings the songs to life and the impressive musical talents of Anahata and Mary Humphreys whether complementing the singing or simply enjoying themselves playing tunes.
Mary continues her search to unearth local songs and restore them to the couple's repertoire. Her hard work in following the song and tune collectors is well rewarded in another outstanding collection of musical gems on this album, which will keep us well satisfied with listening to over and over again in the months and years ahead. Perhaps some of these local variants will soon become folk 'standards'.
Buy the CD, sit back, listen and enjoy the journey.