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David Kidman - FATEA
'I came to this CD at the end of a long and frustrating day, not expecting much, but it really lifted me and I own up to being very agreeably taken with it – in fact, it’s one of the most enjoyable and worthwhile releases I’ve been tasked with reviewing this quarter..'
Tim Carroll - FolkWords
'Whenever I hear bands like this I know the roots of English folk remain perpetual. Whatever changes and developments, twist and tangles ravel through folk music (and how I hope that evolution continues) albums like ‘Half Hands Round’ will always occupy an unassailable place in our nation’s folk spectrum..'
Johnny Adams - Essex Folk News
'This is a charming CD from two highly competent performers. Just over half is traditional songs and the rest self-penned in traditional style plus one music hall item from composer/performer Frank Wood. The traditional sources are varied, the versions interesting and the self-penned songs strong, including one tale of transportation set to the tune of Gilliver, a Roger Watson song that featured regularly in our Muckram Wakes sets of yesteryear. It's good to adopt and adapt! The production is naturalistic with plenty of dynamics and devoid of the smoothness which often slides out of studios these days. Favourite track? The Whitby version of Scarborough Fair. Excellent stuff.'
Jon Whitfield - Shire Folk
'This is a joyful collection of songs. Alison effortlessly switches from lament to morris to more bawdy tunes. Jack's lively engaging work on concertina and melodeon is the perfect foil. Occasional backing-vocals, piano, whistles and spoons add highlights as the tracks switch between cheerful and dark. The simplicity of the production and performance reinforce the whole - this is folk at its basic best.'
Jill Parson - Mardles
'This is a lovely CD featuring 12 tracks that show Alison's clear, strong voice to great advantage. It is a toe-tapping selection of songs and tunes. I particularly like the arrangements and the way that the concertina accompaniment blended with the songs to make a bright and interesting counterpoint. The title track had me smiling as it is a gentle and amusing poke at 'Ring' Morris sides (ones that won't allow female dancers), whilst the very first track - Man About The House - made me very keen to hear what was going to come next. It was like that right the way through the album and I guess you can't get a better endorsement than that. Very enjoyable!'
Kathy Drage - Around Kent Folk
'This is a brilliant CD from two very competent folkies who can adapt from trad to contemporary to humour with great skill and ability.'
Sue Swift - English Dance & Song
'In this first full-length CD, Alison and Jack are shown to be moving on from being folk club floor singers to being very capable guest performers. They met while morris dancing but, apart from the title track which is an amusing, self-penned song in the style of ‘The Female Drummer’ about a woman infiltrating a men’s morris side, this CD has quite a different focus. It is a collection of new, arranged and traditional songs all carefully put together and delivered in a comfortable and very listenable style. The choice of songs reflects a deep interest in the stories they represent. ‘Ruardean Bears’ brings to life a legend from the Forest of Dean about the unlawful killing of bears bought from France, and there is the disappearance and later location of ‘Little Tommy Jones’ – sad tales crafted into songs by Jack and Alison that sound like they have been around a long time. A refreshingly natural approach to ‘Twa Corbies’ is a joy to hear, as is ‘Sweet Carnlough Bay’, the Irish equivalent to the ‘Road to Dundee’. Alison’s strong voice and open manner reflect the mood of the songs, while Jack skilfully uses an Indian harmonium for one and the piano for the other. Whistles enhance the sound so that the accompanying instruments fuse well with the voice to create a rich and vibrant togetherness. These songs stand out but on some others the balance between voice and instrument works less well. I guess this will improve as they spend more time performing together. So there is plenty here to indicate that Jack and Alison are well on their way to a wider audience who will encourage them to write more songs and to continue exploring their combined performance.'
Colin Andrews - What's Afoot
'What a delightful album! The twelve songs provide a lot of interest, with less familiar versions of Scarborough Fair, Twa Corbies and High Germany, some superb original songs in Ruardean Bears and Little Tommy Jones, both based on real events and excellent renditions of The Watchet Sailor and Sweet Carnlough Bay. I loved the tongue-in-cheek Half Hands Around about a female wishing to join an all-male Morris side - quite different from the close parody of The Female Drummer which I heard sung on the same theme at Sidmouth this year. Alison’s clear & melodic voice is very pleasant to listen to and Jack’s accompaniment (and occasional vocals) provide a perfect balance with concertina and melodeon much in evidence. There is also whistle on some tracks - it works very well with Bear Dance following the song about a bear. I think I detected a harmonium and a piano as well – unless Jack has got one of these electronic squeezeboxes that can imitate almost any instrument.'