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SISTERS UNLIMITED "No Bed of Roses" Fellside FECD104

One of the many attractions of folk music (to me at least) is that most of the songs contain lyrics worth listening to. Words to make you stop and think, words to bring a tear to your eye, words to light up your face with a smile, words that cut deep into you. Produce an album of wonderfully crafted lyrics, sung by an array of beautifully balanced voices, and I'll ask for no more.

Highlights of this superb album are topped by a very moving "Women O' Dundee" (written by Sheena Wellington), not far behind is the traditional "Collier's Lassie" and a really earthy version (led by Janet Russell) of the Sweet Honey in the Rock original "More Than A Paycheck". The Irish lament "A Star Mo Chroi" is sung with heart-breaking feeling by Peta Webb, Sandra Kerr gives us a delightful dollop of nostalgic with "Mrs Joan Lias"; a smile or two from Rosie Davie's music hall "My Rebellious Adolescent", while the group composition "Childbirth Shanty" with its "salty metaphors and traditional delivery" will hit a chord with many a mother.

Sisters Unlimited include a couple of pieces attacking the dangers of nuclear power neither of which really worked for me, but Sandra Kerr's "Chipko" based on deforestation protests by Indian women hugging trees, hit home with a vengeance.

Overall an album brimming with good things, emotion and humour, its still playing on my CD player and will be for a very long time.

John Ridgway

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This album was reviewed in Issue 13 of The Living Tradition magazine.