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GRACE NOTES "Down Falls the Day" GNCD1

Grace Notes combines the considerable talents of Maggie Boyle (who can be heard elsewhere with partner Steve Tilston), Helen Hockenhull (ex-Mukram Wakes), and Lynda Hardcastle. They work predominantly, but not exclusively, in three-part harmonies, with accompaniment from various combinations of their own electric keyboard, flute, recorder, and bodhran and cover material ranging from solidly traditional to contemporary.

There is a superb, sensitive treatment of "Black and Bitter Night" from Peter Bellamy's masterwork "The Transports", "Bread and Roses" has a sparse but wholly appropriate accompaniment; and listen to their wickedly humorous version of "Stitch in Time", Mike Waterson's song about revenge on a drunken husband. "Gathering Mushrooms" waxes lyrical on the subject of mushroom ketchup, and although I can't vouch for the culinary tastes the arrangement and singing is a delight for any palate! "Reynardine" is absolutely excellent, as is Joni Mitchell's "River" and "Tom's Song" - which is based on words by Burns, to a tune from Tom McConville. The title track, "Down Falls the Day", is another superb song penned by the remarkable Steve Tilston, and together with the traditional "How Can I Keep from Singing", demonstrates the obvious joy this trio have in singing together.

The thirteen tracks on this CD illustrate "Grace Notes" extensive range of songs, their interesting arrangements, and reflects the refreshing harmonies that are to be found in their live sets. It's well worth the money, buy it.

Mel Howley

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This album was reviewed in Issue 14 of The Living Tradition magazine.