Chris Yorkie Bartram of Shreds and Patches
reviews Through Lonesome Woods by The Askew SistersWhen given this CD to review I mentioned the fact to an acquaintance who said, "Hmm, they're young and pretty but ..." On this basis he denied their credentials as "folk musicians". I was surprised and decided to ask other people (none of them my close friends, by the way). With a little digging (I am a professional digger, after all), I discovered that this appallingly old-fashioned attitude was quite common! (Mind you, we're talking about "folkies" here so "old-fashioned" shouldn't be such a surprise, should it?). It reminded me of the sleeve-notes on an early Joan Baez LP where Bob Dylan admits to "distrusting" her beautiful voice. But that was back in the early 1960s! Surely, even the most "folky" amongst us should have moved on by now.
So let me say unequivocally that these two are, indeed, young and pretty but also among the most "authentic" folk musicians of their generation. They have danced the Morris, so know how the tunes work; they have learned songs from older generations and continue to present them in true traditional manner. They occasionally sing unaccompanied (with those fabulous harmonies that only siblings seem able to achieve) or they accompany themselves on melodeon and fiddle (played with great skill and imagination).
This collection is a nicely balanced mix of songs and tunes. The tunes are sometimes (as they themselves acknowledge) played "too fast" for the dancing they were intended for but, as entertaining material to listen to, they are just right. They make a great foil for the songs which range from strong ballads such as Henry Martin and Lord Bateman to lovely songs like If I was a Blackbird and Sweet Lemaney. There are samples to listen to on the Wildgoose website. Have a listen and, if you like them as much as I do, buy the CD. It is very highly recommended.