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Mike Everett of Mardles

reviews Parallel Strands by Martin Graebe & Shan Cowan

This is an absolutely gorgeous album from a duo that Im ashamed to say I didnt know before listening to this. This is a mix of songs written by Martin or collected by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould. I hadnt realised that I was already familiar with one or two of Martins songs like Honiton Lace and Jack in the Green and had incorrectly assumed that they were traditional! What finer tribute can there be for a contemporary folk song?
Many people will know of Baring-Gould as a hymn writer, with Onward Christian Soldiers being one of his better known hymns. Some will know that he was the inspiration for Pygmalion from his time as a curate in Horbury (of Rushcart fame) where he met the mill girl Grace Taylor, sent her away to be educated and then married her. However, it was as a collector of folk songs from Devon and Cornwall that Baring-Gould himself was most proud.
Martin and Shan have been researching and working on a large collection of material that only came to light in 1992. This is producing some wonderful songs, a number of which are on this album. I must admit to preferring the tracks when Shans voice is to the fore but thats just personal taste. Another album with a talented collection of backing instrumentalists and vocalists, including Keith Kendrick, Paul Burgess, Pat Turner and Lynne Heraud, which just goes to show how well thought of Martin and Shan are by their fellow folk musicians.