Initially what first strikes the listener here is the quite exceptional guitar playing, which is an absolute joy to listen to. Si Barron is a truly gifted player with a deft touch that embellishes every song without ever getting in the way of the words themselves, in other words the accompaniment envelops the songs in a delightful soft cloud of musical excellence. Si’s voice is clear with an array of vocal tones that shine through on every song. I particularly liked his rendition of Reynardine which showcases his vocal agility, sensitivity and complete understanding of the material. There are, of course, many versions of songs about the cunning red fox from the basic hunting song to songs of a more esoteric content, The Black Fox for instance. Reynardine on the album falls into the latter and very satisfying and mysterious it is too. The Fairy Hills is purely instrumental and a particularly fine rendition of a tune I have often heard played under a number of guises.
The treatment of the songs is relatively laid back, which suits Si’s relaxed style, but there is always a performance that demonstrates a true aficionado of the genre. Whilst in his own words, “none of these songs are obscure”, by the same token many of the songs are not heard that often either. This is an eclectic mix of material which is by and large very appealing with a tenuous link combining the whole, with Death as an ultimate end to all things and the way of all flesh.
John Oke Bartlett