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SARA GREY "Back in the Airly Days" Waterbug Records WBG0044

One of my all-time favourite sounds in folk music is that of the 5-string banjo. One of my all-time favourite singers is Sara Grey, the American balladeer who graced our scene for a number of years before heading home recently. With the two put together, as here, the result is fifty-three minutes of delight for me, and for you dear reader, if you take my advice and get this album straightaway.

Sara has always been a top class chooser of songs, a fact borne out by the excellent programme she offers in this album. Songs like "Another Man's Wedding", "The Frog's Wedding", "The Pinery Boyes", "Fair Fanny Moore", "Going to Kansas", (correctly described as "a jewel of a song"), and "Johnny Doyle" to name only a few, are in beautiful versions, sung and played with loving skill, and never a superfluous note. Joan Sprung, Irene Saletan, Ellen Christenson, Jeff Davis, and Pete Sutherland, handle back-up singing and music with equal skill. Sara also knows how to tell a tall tale. Several "Bert and I" type stories learned from her father are sprinkled between the songs with great effect.

This album brings us an artiste in full bloom. She knows what her songs are about and she allows them to speak for themselves, singing without fuss or strain. With accompaniment or without, her voice has warmth and maturity, her playing is secure and confident, placed where it should be, at the service of the song. Sara Grey's choice of songs and her manner of singing will sound as fresh and true in a hundred years time as they do today because she allows their natural beauty to shine. I have all her recordings but one, and this is the best. Perfect. Thank you, Sara.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 32 of The Living Tradition magazine.