Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Liberty to Choose - James Findlay, Bella Hardy, Brian Peters and Lucy Ward

 This CD is made up from selected tracks from The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. As an owner of this fantastic book of songs, I know of the wonders it contains and I understand why it is described by many as a ‘bible’ to English Folk Music. It is also very obvious why they chose this book to make a CD of songs from. 

The CD brings together the four individually talented folk singers and musicians James Findlay, Bella Hardy, Brian Peters and Lucy Ward. I am sure many of you will be aware of these talented people and know that they are all highly regarded on the folk scene. Brian Peters musically directed the three other young folk musicians in order to create this wonderful album.

The opening track, ‘The Baffled knight’ (often referred to as ‘Blow the Windy Morning’), is mostly sung by Lucy Ward and it is a brilliant, upbeat track to start the album with. It has a really catchy tune and is accompanied by violin, melodeon and guitar which really bring out the melody. I think it is a really wonderful version of this well known song and it is a massive contrast to the solemn version of 'The Seeds Of Love' which follows. 'The Seeds Of Love' is such a famous, important song within the folk tradition. It is the song that supposedly inspired Cecil Sharp to begin collecting songs after hearing John England, a gardener, sing it whilst going about his work. In this version, Bella Hardy sings it unaccompanied and it is truly beautiful. 

Another astonishingly beautiful song on the album is 'The Trees They Do Grow High' which is sung by Bella and Lucy. It contains beautiful harmonies which highlight the sad tale within the song. For me, this is a particular highlight of the album. 

I love the way the album includes many different sorts of songs with many different stories within them. It includes the transportation song 'Van Diemen's Land' and a song which is called 'The Molecatcher', which is basically about a molecatcher. Both of these songs are brilliantly sung by Brian Peters and are wonderfully arranged.  'The Molecatcher' has a really catchy, memorable chorus which you will find yourself singing a long to.

Another highlight of the album for me is 'The Jolly Waggoner' which is sung by James Findlay, who also plays the guitar and fiddle on the track. It is a song that highlight James' amazing talents and it is another song that will get you singing along. James Findlay's version of 'Barbara Allen' is also wonderful and is beautifully arranged with James playing guitar. 

The final song on the album is 'The Moon Shines Bright' which is a New Year carol. It is sung by Bella, Lucy, James and Brian. and contains no instrumental accompaniments. As you would expect, it contains really beautiful harmonies and is the perfect ending to a wonderful CD. 

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