This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 8/01
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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With apologies to Donovan, previous incarnations of the hurdy-gurdy man, this one from Cornwall, and the singer-songwriter from the north of England, are back. A reissue of a 1986 release, plus three new cuts, this collection will stir memories of long-time fans, plus introduce the teaming up of Jake Walton and Jez Lowe to relative newcomers.
Walton's hurdy-gurdy provides the backbone on a number of the tunes and his strongest compositions are the environmentally-oriented "Trees" and "Gold And Silver." "Trees," co-written with Eric Liorzou, celebrates the sumptuous bounty provided by woodlands. The tune concludes with a nice touch, attributing human feelings to these silent beacons of nature:
"...The oak and elm together grow, standing close in friendship's holdThe callous abuse of the land for profit is the theme of "Gold And Silver." Walton sings:
Leaves of deepest green unfold, lords of the forest
But the elm lies a-dying, and the oak gives a sigh
To a long, long trusty friend, to an old friend a sign."
"...By riverbank kingfisher fliesCondemning the chemical-caused destruction at the mouth of the River Tees, Lowe joins in with "Over Seal Sands." With both singing, they conclude the cut with:
His royal blue before our eye
Otter swims with silver glide
The heron, he waits for the tide
But fast our poison now it flows
And the fish lie dead upon the stone
Gone for the greed of our gold and our silver..."
"...So the birds all go wading in sulfur and steamWalton's hurdy-gurdy, providing a dirge-like background, helps provide an additional weightiness to the subject matter.
And pick out their days in a dry toxic dream
But how much longer will wings beat with instinct and bring
Them over Seal Sands, over Seal Sands."
Lowe's twining of a shipwreck and love lost in "The Bergen" is the most moving offering. The opening verse:
"...Sleep why'd you wake me with these dreams you bringHe concludes with:
dreams come to me where I lay
Deep the melody, the wild waves sing
and my love is far, far away
Oh and pity the hearts the wild waves part
my love sails the bonny barque the Bergen..."
"It weeps with rains tonight where my love lies"Brockie Lads" is another heartbreak tale, this time of young male carnival workers weaving a web of attraction--lasting the duration the carnival is in town.
Dreams came to me where I lay
Oh sweep the foreign sand from out his eyes
And my love is far, far away..."
"Japs And English" lambastes the assumption of superiority and the terrible results of such attitudes. Drawing from a childhood game played in variations throughout the world, Lowe sings:
"...We always fought as English, as English we were knownLowe closes with this admonition:
But we never fought in England, but in lands that weren't our own
In the image of an empire, in the cause of good and right
With the guns and swords of justice, we taught the world to fight
Like Japs and English..."
"...And the child that knows no better is still father to the manBoth artists also showcase their instrumental talents, teaming up on "Todd's Dance/Monferrina, "Galician Dances, "Rothbury Races/Morpeth Lasses" and "Appleby Gallop."
Whose guns are always bigger, and whose future's in the hands
Of Japs and English."
This is a quiet release yet one that takes political stances. It also showcases Walton and Lowe in their youth--an interesting look back that allows the listener to make comparisons with the current musical output of these two artists.
Jake Walton on vocals, hurdy-gurdy, guitar and dulcimer and Jez Lowe on vocals, guitar, cittern, banjo, keyboards, harmonica and whistle are backed by Jo Partridge on vocals, electric guitar and Linn drums and Paul Reeve on percussion.
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