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Dai Jeffries of R2

reviews Stones on the Ground by Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer

The wonderful thing about folk music is that it can always spring a surprise. I throw myself on your mercy by confessing that I hadn't come across Vicki and Jonny before, even under their previous identities as Muckle Flugga and Serious kitchen, but I'll try to make amends.

Jonny plays guitar, accordion and piano, and Vicki, who is half Swedish, plays smallpipes, flute, whistle, double bass and nyckelharpa. Their material has its roots in tradition although both have written tune sets, but Jonny takes considerable liberties with the songs. He’s not alone in this and he does it with such style that no one can possibly object. ‘Billy Boy’ and ‘Lord Randall’ are very
different versions of familiar titles and ‘Broken Token’ is what it says, although it still doesn’t
include a verse where she gives him a good hand-bagging for messing her about! The centrepiece is ‘Herr Hillebrand And Proud Lena’, a Swedish murder ballad which attains new heights of gruesomeness, and the set closes with the rather wonderful ‘The Oxford And Ampton Railway’.

The overall feeling is quite gentle and, while it could be argued that a bit more welly would not go amiss, this is still a smashing record.

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