You are here: Albums > Display Review

Jacqueline Patten of EDS (EFDSS)

reviews Well Dressed by Keith Kendrick & Sylvia Needham

WildGoose Records, WGS387CD Since Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham began performing together in 2003, they have gained a deservedly high reputation as a duo with audiences throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond. Individually they have a wealth of experience, both having been established artists for many years. Each has a powerful, resonant voice and together they are amazingly compatible. This adds a depth to the a cappella sound that would be difficult to surpass. Likewise, their individual skills on the concertina are remarkable, yet complement each other beautifully.

The album opens to the resounding voice of Keith singing, ‘Banks of the Nile’, with Sylvia Needham harmonising for many of the verses. This fine rendition of a song steeped in the English tradition sets the tone. Having captivated the listener with a strong a cappella song, the second track, ‘Turpin ’Ero’, is introduced by the haunting sound of the hurdy gurdy, played by Jon Loomes. A trilogy with the subtitles ‘sex, drugs, and rock & roll’, is indicative of the insight into, and knowledge of the material that these artists have, and includes ‘Lovers’ Tasks’, ‘Five Gallon Jar’ and two shanties collected by Cecil Sharp from John Short. Sources are mostly traditional with the exceptions of the ‘Well Dressing Song’ by Sarah Matthews and ‘The Spire the Aspired’ by Ian Carter. Only one of the tracks is instrumental, comprising two tunes from the repertoire of Winster Morris for whom Keith and Sylvia play. A rendition of the widely known ‘Turtle Dove’ closes the album perfectly.

Throughout, the arrangements of the songs are sympathetic to the subject, while the mix of humour, pathos and pure storytelling delights the listener. They are joined by a talented array of instrumentalists which enhances the arrangements and gives variety.