Dave Eyre of English Dance & Song magazine
reviews Through Lonesome Woods by The Askew SistersThis record shows that the development of the Askew Sisters, in both technique and artistry, continues apace. In it, there is a wide variety of material with complex arrangements, and familiar material is given a distinctive attention to detail and put together with well-chosen variants. There are three ballads which deserve highlighting:
‘Henry Martin’, ‘The Bonny Bows of London Town’ and ‘Lord Bateman’. If singers add accompaniments to well-known ballads then they need to ensure that they do it for a reason. The Askews’ accompaniments emphasise without intrusion, and yet they still manage to draw out underlying meaning and point the attention of the casual listener to that which might just be missed. They deserve very close listening. As well as these three classic ballads, there are four instrumental tracks taken from sources such as Playford and Offord, and some morris tunes, not always played at dancing speed, but played for sheer enjoyment; the slow morris tune from the Longborough tradition which leads into, and sets the scene for, the title track is a perfect choice. The rhythmical playing, especially of the hornpipes, will set feet banging and the jig ‘Paddy Carey’s’ does indeed have a cheesy bass line, as the liner notes suggest!
Sometimes the rhythm which accompanies the songs is simply steady rather than pushing the tune along, allowing the material to shine through even more clearly. Other songs include ‘Sweet Lemany’, ‘Jack the Jolly Tar’ (a lovely a capella track with clever harmonies), and ‘If I was a Blackbird’, all taken from a variety of sources and all put together with studious clarity. The Askew Sisters have created an outstanding album, and they will again be gracing the folk club and festival stages this summer. You are urged to go, see and listen.