Reviews > Jim Lawton, Sharp Practice
From the first time I saw Mary sing at the Ripponden folk club I was taken with her fiery delivery, expressive vocals and instrumental skill. It is our great good fortune that Anahata, coming from a classical training and a lifetime with Morris and other bands, forms an ideal companion for those skills.
The CD comes with copious sleeve notes, describing the couple's aim of presenting "a wide range of English music and song" and of recording songs from Anahata's collection and from Mary's repertoire of often unique versions, together with detailed histories for each track.
This is a feast for any fan of traditional songs and music, and it's wonderful to hear English tunes given such a showcase. In those instrumentals where both artists play squeeze boxes I am reminded of the intricacies of Martin Ellison and Roger Edwards' playing. The ballad accompaniments provide a wealth of opportunities to display Mary's skill on banjo and keyboards, and Anahata's on cello, the latter with great emotional effect on a stunning version of Barb'ry Allen.
As I said, I have heard Mary sing live on several occasions, but I think that the attention to the traditional roots of this music, especially in the ballads, brings out a quality and solidity which I have not remarked before, and which often calls to mind the tone and delivery of Norma Waterson.
From the jolly Dunmow Galumph to the heartrending Sheath and Knife, this CD is a masterpiece. I really can't recommend it highly enough. The couple have a website at www.treewind.co.uk/mha where you can learn more.
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