Link to Living Tradition Homepage





DEVILS WATER - Treading The Marches

DEVILS WATER - Treading The Marches
Osmosys OSMOCD065

Devils Water’s third album is packed with songs and tunes from Westmarch, Middlemarch and Eastmarch, which spanned Cumberland and Northumberland in the time of reivers and Anglo-Scottish strife. The longstanding duo of Richard Ridley and Raymond Greenoaken has added Patrick Walker on violin, viola and mandolin, and the band builds on the tradition of border balladry with love and flair. You won’t know many of the songs, often because they have put tunes to lyrics by vernacular poets like Robert Anderson, W W Gibson and Hugh Falconer. Throw in good liner notes, including lyrics and glossary, and Treading The Marches is a rich seam indeed.

The singing is in contrasting styles: sturdy from Richard and subtle from Raymond. Their many instruments include the guzouki (a guitar-bouzouki hybrid). The band calls on musical friends to add wattage all the way to folk rock on some tracks. Best known are Rick Kemp (bass guitar and producer) and Ken Nicol (electric guitar). The Fray Of Hautwessel, a traditional ballad about skirmishing between Ridleys and Armstrongs, is a beauty. As a Carlisle resident, I loved The Buck O’ Kingwatter and Madam Jane, two excellent war-of-the-sexes songs from poems by the city’s own Robert Anderson. A Lyke Wake Song features disturbing lyrics by Swinburne. I could go on. I’ve barely started to shovel out the good stuff to be found here.

There are fine bands in the quiet Marches. I’ve reviewed albums by Windy Gyle, Brothers Gillespie and Hadrian’s Union in recent years, and Devils Water stand proudly with them in defence of good music in a living tradition.

Tony Hendry

Secure On-line mailorder service
Many CDs we review are available from The Listening Post.
Check to see if this CD is available.

The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.