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JUNE TABOR "Echo Of Hooves" Topic TSCD543

Moody, melancholy and downright gloomy are all words that have been used to describe June before and, although it's also bound to have been used before I'd like to add glorious. OK, so her choice of material is the kind that would give your kids the hee-bee gee-bees (and not to mention a few adults as well) but the folk world would be a poorer place without her. Drawing on the wealth of prose from the Child ballads 'Hughie Graeme', 'The Cruel Mother' and 'Sir Patrick Spens' to name but three (I know, so have Fairport, Steeleye etc) the lady has conquered this particular direction allowing nothing to interfere with the lyrical content. Although I must say I have been accused of enjoying a good jolly-up (who, me?) what gives me a great deal of listening pleasure these days is a good, Gothic ballad. Laid before us here are not the good-natured turn of melody that frequent folk-rock bands interpretations (except perhaps Bob Johnson from Steeleye who also exposed us to the likes of Long Lankin etc) but the purely evil timbre of just Huw Warren's sombre piano. In someone like Huw's hands the catastrophic nature of the lyric is allowed to ring eerily in the listener's ears like the chiming of a church bell - beautiful in it's own way but downright sinister in another. To enhance the dynamic of the music, the colour wash of Martin Simpson's guitar and Kathryn Tickell's Northumbrian pipes are augmented by the strings of Mark Emerson and Tim Harries. I'd decided a long while ago that I didn't particularly get on with June's recordings (too bleak by far) but I'm glad that I gave this album a chance. Possibly my tastes are maturing or maybe it's just that I'm discovering a part of me that has lain dormant all these years. Whatever - it's a great album and required listening for those of you that are looking for something a little more substantial.

Pete Fyfe

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.