Mary Humphreys and Anahata: 'Floating Verses'I have to confess that so far I have missed the opportunity to hear these well-known artists from East Anglia. I was therefore delighted to be able to review their latest CD, providing an opportunity for me to sample their music at last. The rare blend of a classical instrument, the cello, with traditional folk singing I find very pleasurable. adding warmth and depth that can often be lacking when the guitar is the main accompaniment.
Green Grows the Laurel is a fine, strong opening track but it was the cello playing by Anahata in the following Darling Boy (I wish / had never known) that soon sent shivers down my spine. It pulsated through the song adding a beauty that captured my interest immediately. Foot-tapping soon followed with a hornpipe called Geld him. lasses, geld him and I was delighted later by Mary's version of that old favourite Maid Freed from the Gallows (Prickly Bush) It bounced along merrily with concertina. fiddle and recorder adding to the jolliness of the rendition. The track was soon encouraging me to join in - just the sort of music I like.
The Turtle Dove brings together banjo. played by Mary, and cello. It is performed beautifully, a song to close your eyes and to savour two fine musicians. Fair Margaret and Sweet William is similarly performed. By contrast, and therefore very enchantingly, Mary sings The Willow Tree (O take me to your arms love) unaccompanied. Hares on the Mountain cheerfully gathered pace. taking me speedily along before a melodic and tender Waly Waly soon captivated me with its very pleasant. gentle tempo.
A number of other well-played and merry versions of hornpipes can be enjoyed later in the CD - Sportsman's, Radstock, Whitefriars and Tom Fowler's, together with Harlequin Air. With two further songs, Blow the Candles Out, a very atmospheric, pulsating version, and a lilting If I Was A Blackbird completing the set, I was soon pressing Replay.
Throughout the CD, Mary and Anahata, who between them play a variety of concertinas and melodeons, are very ably supported by Gina and Dave Holland These two supply recorder and fiddle while Chris Amos plays guitar. Altogether, there are 15 varied and very pleasant tracks to ably fill the CD. I would strongly recommend Floating Verses to lovers of fine folk music and I will be making sure that I get to see Mary & Anahata in the very near future. CDs such as this one make reviewing a pleasure. Their previous CD, Sharp Practices, was described by another reviewer as a real treasure - looks like they've found gold again.
The Folk Mag