CD: Megson, Take Yourself a Wife

(EDJ)

Stu Hanna and Debbie Hanna-Palmer, better known as Megson, have steadily established their reputation as two of the freshest, most original performers in the latest folk revival, and this album places them in the major league. They specialise in delicate, intimate harmony singing backed by equally understated and classy instrumental work from Debbie's concertina or Stu's mandolin, guitar, bass or fiddle, and their refreshingly contemporary acoustic style is matched here by a fascinating set of songs. Megson are from Teesside and have set out to revive the work of songwriters popular in the northeast from the 17th to the early 20th century. The songs are poignant, angry or funny, with some memorable, sturdy melodies, and range from a gently thoughtful ballad written by a 19th-century miner, discussing the problems of emigration, through to a protest song from the same era complaining about a new fish market being built in Newcastle, or the witty title track, written by a Cleveland housewife. Then there's Little Joe, written by a young 18th-century travelling singer from Newcastle, which now sounds like the English answer to a classic country weepie. This is a subtle and intriguing set.

Contributor

Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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