SERIOUSKITCHEN – The Whispering Road (WildGoose Records WGS413CD)

SERIOUSKITCHEN The Whispering RoadShould you be looking for an album to confound all your expectations and destroy your preconceptions look no further, I say.

Seriouskitchen are a combination of storyteller Nick Hennessey and musicians Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer and The Whispering Road is a work they have been performing for three years. It combines two old Scandinavian stories with original and traditional music and rolls and flows with no regard for the somewhat arbitrary track divisions.

The first story is ‘The Ring’, an almost archetypal Swedish tale involving a prince, an iron ring, singing animals and trolls and we’re getting perilously close to spoilers – although the prince does seem a bit slow on the uptake. Vicki restricts herself to the traditional nyckelharpa and sings the Swedish children’s song ‘Trollmors Vagvisa’ as well as providing atmospheric backing vocals.

The second story is ‘The Giant With No Heart In His Body’, well-known across northern Europe but collected in Norway. In Seriouskitchen’s adaptation the giant is a troll and the second story provides the background to the first as well as bringing its resolution. The frightening finale is in contrast to the more light-hearted opening. Even with the modernised style of story-telling Nick retains the traditional patterns – everything happens in threes in the approved manner. However, in the modern style it is the girl who is the brains of the outfit while the prince hides in a cupboard.

The Whispering Road is a wonderful piece of invention and although it may be too late to get it for Christmas it will make a fine New Year treat.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.seriouskitchen.co.uk

‘Seek Me, Find Me’ from The Whispering Road live:

ANGE HARDY – Esteesee (Story Records STREC1659)

ANGE HARDY – Esteesee (Story Records STREC1659)“Why Esteesee” asks Ange Hardy in her notes and it was a question I had asked myself in anticipation. The explanation is actually very simple. Esteesee or S.T.C. is Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the subject of Ange’s fourth album.

That Coleridge was what we might now call “a character” quickly becomes apparent as Ange picks out incidents from his life. ‘William Frend’ tells of Coleridge applauding during the trial of one of his college tutors who published a pamphlet condemning the Church liturgy. STC got away with it by blaming a one-armed man standing near him! His friendship with William and Dorothy Wordsworth is recounted in ‘Friends Of Three’; his relationship with his brother is explored in ‘George’ and a failed attempt to found a better life in America is examined in ‘Pantisocracy’.

Of course, Coleridge’s own writing plays a large part. The opening song, ‘The Foster-Mother’s Tale’, comes from a play and then we’re into The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner with two songs. The first, ‘My Captain’, is based on one of the few happy bits of the poem and will be claimed as traditional before long. It’s a song full of optimism and enthusiasm – complete with spoons by Jo May – and is in stark contrast to ‘The Curse Of A Dead Man’s Eye’. This is clever programming; the poem would be the elephant in room otherwise as would ‘Kubla Khan’ which is read by Tamsin Rosewell with accompaniment by Ange on guitar and whistle and Kate Rouse’s hammered dulcimer.

Other musical support comes from Steve Knightley, who takes lead vocals on ‘Mother You Will Rue Me’, Patsy Reid, Archie Churchill-Moss (of Moore Moss Rutter), Lukas Drinkwater (of Three Daft Monkeys), Jonny Dyer, Andrew Pearce and Steve Pledger. In her music Ange cleverly employs the rhythms and cadences of English traditional music, particularly apparent in ‘Along The Coleridge Way’ and the final ‘Elegy For Coleridge’. The packaging is equally good with excerpts from STC’s writing alongside Ange’s words. I’m not sure that every copy goes out with a greetings card, bookmark and “quill” pen but there have to be some perks in this job.

This is an excellent album. It’s rare that I’ll play a CD twice through without a break even for the purposes of a review. Esteesee is an exception.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: www.angehardy.com