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Colin Andrews of Whats Afoot

reviews Susie Fair by Maggie Sand and Sandragon

I came across Maggie Sand, with Mark Powell, when she performed as Alquimia, and I reviewed her album Forever Acoustic in a previous issue. Two songs from that album, Bushes and Briars, and Dance To Your Daddy, also appear on this new CD, with a different arrangement.

Most of Maggie's material is largely traditional English, but she manages to make the songs her own, with her distinctive, clear voice which has quite a haunting quality at times, and some unconventional arrangements. The instrumental accompaniment that includes guitar, harmonium, hurdy-gurdy, recorders, crumhorn & percussion, etc., intentionally gives the whole album a mediaeval flavour, or even a sound more closely associated with French music. Indeed, there are two French pieces: A La Porte Au Palais is a nonsense song intended to be sung to accompany a dance - I loved the snatch of In The Hall of The Mountain King in one of musical interludes. Les Garcons De Montagne is a tune from the Massif Central.

The treatment of familiar traditional songs such as If I Were A Blackbird, Rosebud in June, and Rigs Of The Time, might not appeal to the purist, but personally I thoroughly enjoyed the songs and the music. It shows that there are a variety of ways in which our wealth of traditional material can be well presented with quality and skill. I'm in favour of innovation and experimentation if it can produce an album like this.