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THE TEACUPS - Of Labour And Love

THE TEACUPS - Of Labour And Love
Haystack Records HAYCD008

Kate Locksley, Rosie Calvert, Alex Cumming and Will Finn are harmony singers in their early 20s. They met in 2010 on Newcastle University’s Folk and Traditional Music degree course, have just released their second album and, as I write this, are appearing at Shrewsbury Folk Festival. An impressive trajectory.

There’s no belting out of songs here. The arrangements of their mostly traditional material are delicate and imaginative, with one singer usually taking a carefully crafted lead line and the others in support. The song selection is also tasteful, with a good range but some bias towards West Country collections.

Of Labour And Love grows in confidence as it progresses. The Bellringing, My Son John and the steamboat worksong Sugar In The Hold are OK, but the album picks up speed with the fourth song, the murder ballad Oxford City (which Eliza Carthy recorded as Worcester City). It bowls along with Labouring Man (with illustrious guest singers), a well-paced version of The Drowned Lovers (learnt from Kathryn Roberts’ singing on her debut album with Kate Rusby) andYe Mariners All with handclap percussion. Kate Locksley’s song The Antiguan Graveyard, about the sailors who succumbed to disease while protecting the colony, is very impressive. The Rapper Set is a lively mix: a calling on song (from which the album’s title is taken) followed by Drummond Castle and Seven Stars rendered by mouth music, with Will Finn stepping like a good’un. It would have made a strong opener. Things calm down for the last song, Journey’s End (Judy Goodenough’s poem put to music by Tommy Makem).

And that’s your lot, at only 32 minutes. My only criticism of a lovely album is that it left me wanting much more.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 110 of The Living Tradition magazine.