A Review of the CD
"Telfer's Cows - Folk Ballads From Scotland"
by Andrew Calhoun
"Telfer's Cows - Folk Ballands From Scotland"
by Andro' Colququon aka Andrew Calhoun
P.O. Box 12736
Portland, OR 97212
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/04Hold your horses and all other farm animals, domesticated and otherwise. This is not Andrew Calhoun, fired up over the spread of
enraged bovine illness, unloading on the cattle industry.
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No, this is actually him taking a very divergent path from the
offerings of his previous releases, including last year's excellent
"Tiger Tattoo." And it really, really works.
Singer-songwriter turned musicologist Calhoun, with assistance from a
bevy of others, has researched and "channelled" 12 Scottish ballads,
resulting in what will be considered one of the best CDs of 2004. He
has provided a lengthy assortment here, with the longest song, the
title cut "Telfer's Cows," running 7:55. Most of the remaining
offerings run five or six plus minutes.
Why does it work so well? This is a great selection of songs, many are
very melodic, with interesting stories, and Calhoun's vocals and the
instrumental backing blend together well. Simply, he beautifully
resuscitates these traditional tunes, giving them yet another life.
The storyline of "Eppie Morrie," with a nice hurdy-gurdy touch, brings
to mind in some ways of the late Dave Carter's "Cat Eyed Willie Claims
His Lover." The thrust of "Jeannie o'Bethelnie" is captured best in the
liner notes: "When men threaten to die for love in folksongs, the women let them."
"Kinmont Willie" is described as a Hollywood Western prototype and
"Telfair's Cows" similarly qualifies, as this morality tale builds and
builds to a climatic battle, with some similarities to "High Noon,"
although the aggrieved here does not have to go it alone.
Love (and necessity) is the mother of invention in "A Shake In The
basket," a cut that visually conjures up scenes and images reminiscent
of a Marx Brothers film.
A couple of the songs are compelling a cappella renditions: "The Battle
Of Harlaw" and "Hughie Grime." Don't you just love the name of that
Renaissance music man Calhoun, also the writer of the best Dave Carter
tribute song, "I Shall Not Look Away," has triumphed again with this
release. It is that good.
Calhoun, on vocals and guitar, is assisted by Elizabeth Nicholson on
harp and vocals, Bob Soper on fiddle, mandola and vocals; Tracy Grammer
on violin and vocals; Kate McGinn on vocals; Rob Stroup on vocals;
Felicia Dale on hurdy-gurdy, bodhran and vocals; William Pint on octave
mandolin and vocals; Joe Root on accordion and Donny Wright on bass.
- King Orfeo - 6:12
- The Two Sisters - 4:34
- The Battle of Harlaw - 4:52
- Eppie Morrie - 4:30
- Jeannie o'Bethelnie 0 5:09
- Hughie Grime - 5:55
- Kinmont Willie - 6:35
- Telfer's Cows - 7:55
- Clark Colven - 4:31
- A Shake in the Basket - 3:58
- The Beggerman - 4:19
- The Unquiet Grave - 2:46
Ownership, copyright and title of this folk music CD review belongs to me, Kevin McCarthy.
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