While my reviewing of this series of four CDs has been unavoidably eccentric so far, starting with the last in the series and moving on to the first, I’m now on track(-ish) with the second CD in the series, As I Roved Out: Songs Of Spring. Once again the songs and tunes are primarily traditional and have a seasonal theme. This time Hanz (on flute, whistle, bodhrán and vocal) and Kathryn (fiddle, guitar and vocal) are joined by Joe Trump (percussion), Cal Scott (guitar), Chris Hayes (guitar and ukulele), Elizabeth Bacon and Ara Gale (vocal).
- The CD begins with the slow air ‘The Fairy Child’ then jumps into a nicely balanced set of reels: ‘The Primrose Lass’ / ‘The Maid In The Cherry Tree’ / ‘The Otter’s Holt’. Good tunes all.
- ‘Searching For Lambs’ (Roud 576) is a much-collected English song. Here, though performed acoustically, it has a slight folk-rock flavour. It’s a nice enough arrangement, but the harmonies don’t quite work for me.
- ‘As I Roved Out’, also sometimes known as ‘Seventeen Come Sunday (Roud 277) is also known in many versions. This one has a sprightly tune, beautifully sung by with just percussion for accompaniment.
- The next track is a nice set of tunes, only the last of which is familiar to me: ‘April Fool’ / ‘The Dawn’ / ‘The Skylark’.
- ‘Rosemary Fair’ is a major-key version of a song better known as ‘Scarborough Fair’, related to the much older ballad ‘The Elf Knight’ (Child 2), part of a group of ballads in which a human has to avoid the attentions of a supernatural being by performing or countering a number of supernatural tasks. This version has more of a play-party feel, but has undoubted charm with Hanz and Kathryn both taking lead vocals.
- ‘Blackbirds & Thrushes’ is a song you may know as ‘Hares On The Mountain’ or ‘Sally My Dear’, using the usual tune but with additional harmonies and some athletic work from Hanz on the playout.
- ‘Pleasant & Delightful’ is a song that I’ve heard too often, to be honest, but this is a well-sung and harmonized version.
- Next comes a typically well played set of tunes: ‘Spring Up In The Air’ / ‘Up & About In The Morning’ / ‘Na Ceannabhain Bhana’.
- As a counterweight to track 7, ‘Rosebud In June’ (Roud 812) is a song that maybe isn’t heard enough. Precise, attractive harmonies from Hanz and Kathryn here.
- Then comes another set of tunes: ‘Lucky In Love’ / ‘Game Of Love’ / ‘1st Month Of Spring’.
- ‘Country Life’ (Roud 1752) is a bold move, since it’s a song long associated with the Watersons. However, this version has a percussive accompaniment, as well as intervals of flute and fiddle, to supplement some pleasant harmonies.
- Finally, ‘The Verdant Braes Of Skreen’ is a song I remember with fondness from my early days in folk clubs. It’s well sung by Hanz with harmony from Kathryn and accompanied sympathetically with some instrumental overdubbing.
All in all, this is a good, listenable album, but perhaps not as striking as the CDs in the series reviewed previously. A more adventurous choice of vocal material might well have made all the difference.
‘As I Roved Out’:
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