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ARTISAN "Our Back Yard" Boing 9604CD

This latest release from the Yorkshire a cappella trio is a musical historical tour through the past 50 years. All bar one of the songs was written by Brian Bedford and show his usual facility with both lyrics and tunes. Artisan's harmonic style often comes in for criticism (you either love em or hate em), but the fact that their songs are performed by many of their contemporaries can only emphasise their worth.

Having only lived in the country for 30 years I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of the content of the CD, but have no reason to doubt it. The performances are fresh and loaded with their mischievous sense of humour. The songs are at once humorous, poignant and thought provoking. Many on this particular release are in the style of some of the old music hall favourites. It is unlikely that any of us could fail to identify with at least one of them. My own personal favourite is A Posy Made of Dreams. Is this really what we are teaching our youth? No wonder they get discouraged before they start.

We don't often get a chance to enjoy a live appearance by Artisan - their trips across the border are few and far between. They seem to be in great demand across the Big Pond. Perhaps we are in danger of losing them. Will it take another artistic exodus west before we realise what we are missing? In the meantime while we wait for their next Scottish tour this will make a worthy addition to our collections. An admirable performance from one of our best known groups.

Anne-Marie Ringler

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This album was reviewed in Issue 26 of The Living Tradition magazine.