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THE FOXGLOVE TRIO - Distant Havens

THE FOXGLOVE TRIO - Distant Havens
Private Label FXGCD03

This is one of the most delightful CDs that I’ve heard in recent months, combining excellent singing, fine harmonies and commendable musical ability in what is largely a very successful format. This relatively young trio has successfully combined some very well-chosen traditional songs with more contemporary and self-penned material. Out of a total of 14 tracks, five are in Welsh and the rest English, so there’s something for everyone.

The first thing that strikes the listener is the truly remarkable quality of lead singer Ffion Mair’s voice, which would keep you listening whatever the musical contribution was like – although in this case the other trio members, Cathy Mason (cello, guitar) and Patrick Dean (melodeon, cello), do a great job throughout; the richness of the cello is well augmented by the melodeon. The second element that hits you is the variety of the material, and of the ways in which they’ve approached it. The Sheffield Apprentice, for example, is given an unexpected, almost jaunty treatment, while the traditional Y Deryn Du Pigfelen comes with an air new to me. Stand-out tracks for me included Ym Mhontypridd and Jean Ritchie’s Now Is The Cool Of The Day – one of a couple of tracks concerned with the state of the world.

I would have preferred a slightly more vocal-oriented balance on the otherwise excellent self-penned Branwen, to allow the story to come over with greater clarity, and one of the other pieces by Ffion, The January Girl, didn’t quite hit the mark – it can be risky taking a ‘standard’ and giving it a fresh twist; it didn’t stand the inevitable comparison with Dave Goulder’s original as well as one might hope. But these are very minor personal gripes, and not to be put in the balance when judging this great addition to the Welsh folk music canon. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.