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Peter Massey of Folk Northwest

reviews The Waiting by Issy & David Emeney with Kate Riaz

It is always a pleasure tinged with excitement to receive a CD for review from artist I have never heard of before. This is often the case when they are semi-pro or live at the other end of the country and haven’t ventured on to my patch yet. It’s even more of a pleasant surprise to find they really very good. This is just the case for me when I listened to this album. I think this is the 2nd album from Issy & David Emenet with Kate Riaz.

Originally from Suffolk, the Emeney family moved to Somerset a few years ago. Pleasingly, they have carried a strong sense of Suffolk traditional music with them and fused with influence from Somerset, it works well.

What I liked most about the album which is made up of mainly traditional ‘sounding’ material, is not only the gentle relaxed accompaniment, but the way they have added a little bit of ‘Theatre’ to their arrangements. This something that I think is very important, if traditional folk song is to survive into the next century. You only have to watch a Morris dance team in action, to see the obvious fun and enjoyment they are having doing it. There is no need for some traditional singers to be so dower and serious about their songs.

Issy plays melodeon, concertina and sings sharing the lead vocals with David on guitar, bouzouki and bodhran. Kate plays cello gives a vocal harmony. All 3 musicians appear very accomplished and the accompaniments are sensitively done. Especially the cello from Kate as she plays up on the ‘dusty’ end of the cello’s neck!

The album starts with a song called ‘The Three Men’, another take on the Stanton Drew song. A fine starting song for the album, but I would have placed the next tune called ‘Lark Rise’ although it is very pleasant, a bit lower in the play list. This brings you to the title track ‘The Waiting’ sung by Issy (I presume?) Written by Issy, it’s a story about a maiden lamenting for the return of her departed sailor sweetheart. The next song ‘The Bristol Sailor’ might be the sailors’ story. Unfortunately, the sleeve notes are a bit short on information as to who wrote what. I am presuming David or Issy wrote this one, however, it does have shades of something Martyn Wyndham-Read might have sung.

I particularly liked Davids’ treatment given to Baring Gould ‘The Mole Catcher’ song. I haven’t heard this song for many a year!

The album has quite a few interesting songs and tunes written by Issy. ‘The Bird Scarer’s Song’ about the unspeakable job given to poor Victorian children. ‘Song For a Young Man’ a personal song written about a 15 year old boy who died suddenly in his sleep. ‘The Gypsy Countess’ a prequel to the song Raggle Taggle Gypsies.

To sum up, this is good album that I recommend you buy. The band is on the way up, and on the strength of this album, it won’t be long before they appear on the guest list for many more folk festivals, - where they deserve to be!