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VARIOUS ARTISTS "English Songs of Love" Beautiful Jo Records BEJOCD19

English songs recorded with love, care and attention by some fine musicians and singers. Something far from common among the bland, banal and thrashed out musical juxtapositions which, too often these days, are being passed off as recordings of folk music. Not that the arrangements on "English Songs of Love" are muted or lacking innovation, there is more on offer than just three chords on an Eko guitar.

Most of the songs performed here by Lynne Denman, Joanne Acty and Julie Murphy, are suited to the unaccompanied style and yet gain much from the complementary work of the musicians. Included here are; Dan Morris on fiddle; Di Whitehead on cello and recorder; Stacy Blyth accordion and harpsichord; Andy Turner on concertina and Ceri Matthews on clarinet, pipes, cittern and guitar. The songs and tunes have come through some of the great collectors, Cecil Sharp, Lucy E. Broadwood and Rev. Sabine Baring Gould. Many of these songs will be fairly well known, "Searching for Lambs", The Lowlands of Holland", "The Banks of Sweet Primroses", "The Bonnie Light Horseman" and the variations of "A Blacksmith Courted Me", but here they are given another layer of depth and a further sharpening of focus.

The three singers would seem to have differing approaches to traditional song and to the style of arrangements but the qualities in the voices is a source of continued pleasure. Lynne Denham, Joane Acty and, in particular, Julie Murphy turn in performances that can stir the heart and the emotions.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 33 of The Living Tradition magazine.