THE BREWER’S DAUGHTER – Made Undone (own label)

Made UndoneIt’s been a while since I last heard from The Brewer’s Daughter, or Rhiannon Crutchley as her mum and dad call her. She’s back now with added pizzazz and a new album, Made Undone. In the interim she’s formed a musical partnership with guitarist/pianist Magnus Martin and acquired a little sophistication. Fear not however, the edge that made her so distinctive is still there although perhaps wrapped up a little more prettily.

The opening track, ‘Single Berth’ puts you straight in mind of the canals – Rhiannon still lives on a narrow boat – but it’s deeper than that. She’s holding out a helping hand to someone who has been away and neglected and ignored, offering a share of her bed. The song is built on a driving acoustic guitar riff and grabs you immediately.

‘Waterways Lament’ was written in the 60s by David Blagrove at a time when it seemed that the government of the time seemed to be intent on destroying the canal system but intense lobbying prevented that from happening and helped preserve the canals as we know them today. It’s a cause close to Rhiannon’s heart and the song is topped and tailed by the atmospheric sound of a diesel engine. You’ll recognise the tune – everybody borrowed it back then. There are a few more covers. ‘Low November Sun’ was written by the late Chris Broderick of The Singing Loins and the rather weird ‘Mara’ was composed by Magnus, perhaps as an introduction to the Ukrainian traditional tune, ‘Frailach’. The two pieces work together as a platform for Rhiannon to show off her fiddle playing.

‘Traveller’s Heart’ is co-written with Liz Ruth – lots more lovely lead guitar – but all the remaining tracks are written by Rhiannon and here is where the depth and complexity of the record lies. ‘The Wolf’ features Magnus lead guitar and is in part a litany to Rhiannon’s young life, the wolf in question is the one that she and, by extension, all of us keep from the door. “We have such a good life” she sings but I think there is more than a touch of irony in this line.

‘Kitten’ is a commentary on the woman’s place in the world with lines bitterly spat out – except for two gentle passages in which Rhiannon seems to accept the role that life has allotted to her. At least, that’s what I think she’s saying but I have to admit that the meaning of ‘Hazel’ still eludes me, so I could be wrong. The final track, ‘The Way We Were’ is an instrumental with wordless vocals – essentially a trio of fiddle, guitar and piano.

You won’t buy Made Undone, or any other album by The Brewer’s Daughter, for its easy listening qualities. The album is raw and honest and needs time to assimilate. All the best records do.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Single Berth’ – live:

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