GEORGIA SHACKLETON – Harry’s Seagull (own label)

Harry's SeagullGeorgia has already made her mark with The Shackleton Trio and her debut solo album, Harry’s Seagull, continues her ongoing exploration of East Anglian songs and tunes. More about the title later but you will be familiar with the names credited as sources of these songs, from Phoebe Smith to Peter Bellamy, all performed on fiddle and harmonium in the old, simple style of the country singer.

She begins with ‘Twenty, Eighteen’, a song of rejected courtship which is familiar in many versions. Oddly, although Georgia uses the title, she omits the tongue-twisting chorus which is perhaps better suited to the live stage. Next comes ‘Come, Little Leaves’ from Walter Pardon who remembered singing it in primary school. Third, is ‘Rambling Robin’, a broadsheet set to music by Peter Bellamy. Georgia doesn’t go in for elaborate embellishments and unnecessary repeats so she rocks through these three songs in a little over six minutes. If I have a criticism of Harry’s Seagull it’s that I’d like more of it, please.

And so the title, which is part of a three tune set which begins with Harry Cox’s ‘What Will Become Of England’ – just two short verses which, Georgia says, don’t lose relevance. In the middle is ‘Yarmouth Hornpipe’ followed by ‘Harry’s Seagull’, a tune written by Georgia herself. The story goes that Harry, an animal lover, once kept a wounded seagull as a pet, presumably until it regained full health.

‘Small Birds Whistle’ is a familiar story of unwanted pregnancy, this version coming from Jasper Smith, accompanied on a deep, rich harmonium, followed by a version of ‘The Blacksmith’ from another traveller, Jasper’s sister, Phoebe Smith. A pair of hornpipes lead into the final leg of the album. The first of two nautical songs is Harry Cox’s ‘Yarmouth Fisherman’s Song’ which tells of a particularly harrowing trip, followed by ‘Windy Old Weather’, which I fondly remember hearing Bob Roberts sing. Amongst other titles it is also known as ‘Happisburgh Light Song’.

Harry’s Seagull faithfully recreates the style of East Anglian singers and musicians but, good as it is, it left me hungry for more. Mustn’t be greedy, I suppose.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Windy Old Weather’ – official video: