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Joan Crump of EDS

reviews Long Time Travelling by Jeff Warner

Jeff Warner is well known on the UK festival scene
for bringing to life the songs collected by his
parents, Anne and Frank Warner, in America during
the middle of the twentieth century. As children
Jeff and his brother Gerrett accompanied their
parents on several of their collecting trips, and so
were exposed from early childhood to these rich
song traditions – their mother Anne’s book
contains several photos of the boys playing on
mountain farms and posing with ancient-looking
source singers. On Long Time Travelling, Jeff gives
his interpretations of eighteen songs drawn mostly
from the Warner collection, though interestingly
these American songs are accompanied by an
impressive selection of British singers and
musicians, including Keith Kendrick, Johnny Dyer,
Vicki Swan and Caroline Robson.
The songs come from different regions of the
United States, and Jeff seems to strive to be true
to the style of the source – so ‘Bold Harpooner’, for
example, as a song collected in New England,
doesn’t have the ringing chorus of ‘Long Time
Travelling’ or the languid pacing of ‘Come Love
Come’, both of which are southern songs. I think
the southern songs, especially with their banjo
accompaniment and additional instrumentation
such as fiddle and bones, work particularly well.
They’re relaxed and easy in their interpretation,
and the guest musicians and Jeff seem to be
having great fun with them. However, one of the
strengths of the CD is its range of material,
encompassing different traditions and styles. It
even presents several types of work song, from
shanties to roustabout and lumber camp songs.
This CD of Jeff’s interpretations of the songs is
a great complement to the field recordings from
his parents’ collection.