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reviews Through Lonesome Woods by The Askew Sisters

The talented Askew sisters, Hazel and Emily, have developed a style that suggests a maturity beyond their years, one that many performers fail to achieve however long their career. On their latest CD, Through Lonesome Woods, they give a remarkably uplifting performance. Hazel plays melodeon and sings lead vocals, while Emily plays violin and sings backing vocals. Throughout the delivery is flawless, from the first to the last track this album holds the listener's attention.

The instrumental tracks are played with a vigour and rhythm that makes it difficult to believe that anyone would not find themselves moving in time to the music wherever they are, whatever they are doing. To highlight particular tunes as favourites is inenviable, however, if pressed, the medley of The Blue-eyed Stranger/Goddesses/Mrs Casey, might be included in my Desert Island Discs!

In contrast to the upbeat instrumental tracks, the vocal tracks include three ballads: Henry Martin, Lord Bateman, and The Two Sisters. To include three ballads on one album and retain the listener's attention is ambitious, one which they achieve admirably. Both the stories and the tunes are captivating in these haunting renditions. Other songs include a delightful waltz setting of If I were a Blackbird taken from the Gardiner Collection; Jack the Jollv Tar collected by Sharp from William Nott of Meshaw, and The Turtle Dove collected in Dorset by the Hammond Brothers. From the sources mentioned for these three, it will be gathered that this is an album of southern English music.

By the time The Askew Sisters have reached an even wider audience with concert and festival appearances, as well as people who buy the CD as an introduction to this duo, people will be wanting another album. Not only is praise due to Hazel and Emily, congratulations must also go to Andy Bell for such a high-standard recording and production.