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Holger Brandstaedt of FolkWorld Germany

reviews Short Sharp Shanties Vol. 1 by John Short

The album Short Sharp Shanties fits seamlessly into the Cecil Sharp revival currently taking place in England and is the first of three planned releases dedicated to the repertoire of John Short, alias Yankee Jack. The sailor from Watchet (Somerset) contributed almost 60 shanties to Cecil Sharp’s collection of English and American folk songs in 1914. These included songs such as Hanging Johnny, Blow Boys Blow and Shallow Brown which are still universally known today. I must confess that I kept putting off listening to this CD, though without good reason. Whilst some of the songs very much bear the mark of testosterone-fuelled deck scrubbers, the crew also includes Barbara Brown as well as the fabulous Jackie Oates. And, as in real life, having women on board changes the mood considerably. Whether it be Fire, Fire or Rio Grande, the use of female voices adds depth, and with Tommy's Gone Jackie Oates reaches the artistic high-point at the very end of the album. Short Sharp Shanties is a treasure trove for future generations of British folk musicians, both male and female, in which the island is certainly not lacking.