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reviews Stones on the Ground by Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer

Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer are at it again! They were creating quite a stir with previous recordings and with "Stones on the Ground" I also jump on the bandwagon. The English duo's umpteenth album has some lengthy ballads, however, without it getting boring. The nursery rhyme "Billy Boy" for example is originally a song collected by Cecil Sharp, Jonny (vocals, guitar, accordion, piano) added some original verses. "Lord Randall" of course is the traditional Child ballad which Bob Dylan used as a blueprint for his "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall". It actually borrows the formula of "Billy Boy" (or vice versa), with a more gruesome ending. Another fine and less known song is "The Oxford and 'Ampton Railway" about the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton railway opened in 1853 and soon called Worse and Worser line, though the glowing lyrics indicate that it had been written before its completion. The traditional words have been set to a new tune of Jonny's. The songs are interspersed with instrumental interludes written by Jonny plus a couple of instrumental sets thrown in for good measure. Vicki (vocals, nyckelharpa, Scottish smallpipes, flute, whistle) has a Swedish parent and that explains the following tracks: "Herr Hillebrand and Proud Lena" originally is a medieaval Swedish murder ballad translated by Vicki and put to music by Jonny. She also wrote a couple of Nordic sounding instrumental tunes. On Jonny's "Valnötslångdans" she duets with herself, playing smallpipes set in D and A, respectively.