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translator Tim Dennehy have cleverly woven words simply aren’t there, still less explained.
various Irish cultural signifiers into the text Similarly, the notes veer from the insightful
such as ‘the murder machines’. There are (‘Mary can... inhabit [a fine song] ... in such a
other impressive tracks like the delightful Kiss way that you feel she’s always been its singer’)
The Moon, all about life and hope, and the to vapid PR-speak such as ‘dazzling Frankie
similarly jaunty Síos Faoi Braoch Loch Aileann Gavin’, and ‘Seamie O’Dowd, a young legend’:
(Down By Loch Aileann Side); sticking with the stuff like this really isn’t needed!
Irish language, there’s likewise the splendid
Beef over: Petticoat Loose is a wonderful album
and it’ll certainly be amongst my favourites for
a long time to come.
Steve McGrail
MADDY PRIOR
Seven For Old England
Park Records PRKCD100
contributions or of the actual song settings,
the latter having been lovingly worked out by
Considering that Maddy is widely regarded as
Maddy and Benji in collaboration with Carnival
one of “the” voices of English folk music, it may
Band cohort Giles Lewin, who plays violin,
come as a surprise to discover that her latest
viola, oud, harmonium, flute and recorder on
release, Seven For Old England, is actually her
this disc to always scintillating effect.
first traditional acoustic folk album (as such) in
many a long year. In a sense it harks back to
Also appearing at various points are
Caoine Sheáin Mhic Searraigh (Lament for
the spirit of discovery in her groundbreaking
John Kirkpatrick (button accordion, anglo
John McSherry). There’s Generous Lover’
early brace of albums with Tim Hart (the first of
concertina), Tony Poole (12-string guitar),
magisterial and perfect for Mary’s voice, and
which, Folk Songs Of Old England Volume 1,
Barney Morse-Brown (cello) and John Banks
there’s a beautifully produced Victor Jara;
was released all of 40 years ago), for now here
(medieval harp). The sixteen songs Maddy
within this one, there are unspoken echoes of
the heavy mantle of monolithic Steeleye folk-
has chosen include some very well known
Mary’s own one-time beleaguered community.
rock is shed in favour of glittering light-textured
ones, which sound particularly fine in their
The title track, Petticoat Loose is yet another
acoustic arrangements which are (at least in
new clothing, but these latest settings are
perfect vehicle for her with its complex
part) also informed by Maddy’s many and
handsomely enterprising. Highlights come
arrangements and strange menacing lyrics.
varied extra-Steeleye musical collaborations.
from both extremes of the emotional scale:
The CD has only one weak track, Lumè the broodingly lyrical The Cuckoo, the
Lumè, a lugubrious Romanian drinking song.
Sounding wonderfully fresh-minted in both
simple, sparse I Heard The Banns (a masterly
The sleeve notes talk of how the ‘exuberant
conception and execution, these settings
evocation of regret) and John Dowland’s
strings’ of the musicians ‘let themselves
largely partner Maddy’s typically excellent
supremely melancholy (yet also quite feisty)
go’ in this: sadly, exuberance and people
singing with the guitar or bouzouki (and, in one
Come Again all make for good contrast with
letting themselves go is the last thing that’s
instance, banjo) of Benji Kirkpatrick, whose
the determined, wilful The Collier Lad, the
manifested.
energetic and all-embracing performing style
rumbustious Trooper’s Nag and, probably best
has stamped his musical personality on the
of all in terms of Maddy’s vocal prowess, Came
This issue leads to my one concern - the CD’s
proceedings to such an extent that at times it
Ye From Newcastle, where she manages to
sometimes erratic sleeve notes, including
seems almost as much a signature element as
negotiate the tricky contours of the Playford
poor proofing, eg Proinn Duignan and Prionn
Maddy’s voice (this impression is reinforced
dance tune with incredible, enviable ease.
Duignan. Also, only some of the lyrics are
by the upfront balance he’s accorded and
Maddy also turns in an unusually exhilarating
printed, but not all. Why? The two Gaelic
the exceedingly crisp recording). This
treatment of Bold General Wolfe, a more
songs aren’t translated (and their local Irish
latter observation should not, however, be
expectedly sprightly Staines Morris and a
is already difficult...) whilst Lumè Lumè’s
taken to imply any criticism either of Benji’s
refreshingly unadorned Trimdon Grange.
Sponsored by BIrnam CD The Living Tradition - Page 1
Issue80.indd 41 14/7/08 14:54:31
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