Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest
reviews Stones on the Ground by Vicki Swan & Jonny DyerIt's always a pleasure to receive a CD for review from these two because I know I'm going to get quality performances from start to finish. This latest album from the well known and popular duo is no exception.
They open with a version of Billy Boy and on listening to it I was immediately transported back to evenings with the Southport Swords and big Pete Rowley singing it while stroking 'The Rat' - some of you reading this will no doubt remember (you had to be there - I can't begin to describe it!) and, like me, it will bring a smile to your face.
My smile on listening was doubly apt because, yet again, I was listening to two fine musicians and singers rendering a well known traditional song in their inimitable style.
They follow it with the tune Nancy's Fancy. In fact there are quite a number of tunes on this CD including, of course, some Swedish tunes reflecting Vicki's family roots. I've always liked the sound of the Swedish Nyckelharpa ever since I first heard Vicki playing it and therefore among the tunes I liked best, such as En Gang and Viggo's Vaggvisa, it is featured.
Many of the songs are versions of well known traditional ones but usually with new and innovative arrangements. I particularly liked their lilting rendition of The Oxford and 'Ampton Railway having only heard very few singers attempt it previously. Vicki gets to sing in her native tongue on Singi Sunset but Jonny and Vicki sing the Swedish murder ballad Herr Hillebrand in English following Vicki's translation and Jonny's arrangement of the lyrics.
All in all another little gem of an album from these two with the usual excellent presentation of erudite sleeve notes and fine production from Doug at Wild Goose.