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Ivan North of Folk London

reviews Heirlooms by Chris Sarjeant

Chris is a singer and guitarist steeped in the folk music tradition of the British Isles. His father and mother Derek and Hazel Sarjeant were a well known duo on the folk scene and for many years ran a club in Surrey. Chris initially set out to train as a pianist at the Royal Northern College of Music but whilst there he rediscovered his folk music roots and spurred on by recordings of Martin Carthy and Nic Jones he taught himself guitar.

This is his debut album. The title Heirlooms is a reference to the songs which have been passed down to him. He is joined by a number of instrumentalists: Johnny Dyer (accordion), Issy Emeny (melodeon), Pete Flood (percussion), Keith Kendrick (concertina), Jackie Oates (fiddle) and Vicki Swan (bass and nyckelharpa).

Of the 14 tracks only two are not traditional. Kay Sutcliffe's Coal not Dole is a reflection on the death of a coal mine. AB Hornpipe/Mrs Bolowski's are a hornpipe and reel by Kathryn Tickell and show his finger dexterity to great effect.
The opening track Bonny Labouring Boy displays his ability at holding the attention while relating a long story. The intricate guitar and fiddle accompaniment blend well together. Lord Marlborough is also a long song using his imagined last words. Sea songs feature highly in the folk genre and there are a number on this CD. Coast of Barbary is a lively song about a sea battle, Farewell Dearest Nancy concerns a sailor leaving his true love and in Our Ship Lies in Harbour he does return he has to fight the girl's father for her hand! In Bay of Biscay the sailor returns as a ghost.

To finish off we have the euphemistic Wanton Seed which comes appropriately from Nic Jones. Chris is a personable and highly talented performer and I can heartily recommend both his live performances and this CD.