This is a lovely CD in all senses of the word.
Much as we hate those reviewers on Amazon who rate an album as five stars because it arrived on time, anyone holding the CD is going to be favourably biased before a note rings out. The sleeve and packing is beautiful, with an embossed cover, and art that’s a cross between mystical and homely. There’s even an inspirational quote: “Whatever may be, make it welcome, whatever may go let it pass.”
The music is traditional folk but sounds fresh. It’s polished and carefully curated, while not sounding fake; the kind of folk you’d want to hear if you wanted to like folk but didn’t want to be bored or lectured.
She’s got a class band, whom she thanks profusely: fiddler Peter Knight, Lukas Drinkwater on bass, percussionist Evan Carson, Alex Cumming on accordion, Jon Dyer on flute and whistle and cellist Lee Cuff, to whom the inspirational quote is dedicated, along with a note that, gutted after not winning an award, she realised the joy of folk was making music with players who love playing and appreciative audiences.
All but two songs are written by Hardy but tell tales as old as music: opener Sisters Three is about three sisters, a tale of death and butchery, and the origin of good and evil, while Once I Was I Rose is her “go and see your granny” song; the narrator is an old woman lamenting, “Harsh are the winters / The evenings have drawn in”.
Other songs tackle folklore in her home town (Watchet), walking in the countryside, as well as folk lyric stalwart “Johnny”, who “has quite a hard time in folk songs, regularly being killed off,” she writes, introducing one of two traditional songs on the album. Her daughter’s ADHD (how she stays positive) and Theresa May’s “just about managing” families, the narrator a mum who hides the fact from the kids that the Christmas turkey costs more than the family savings, also inspire songs.
Musically: the opening song Sisters Three is a lively reel, with a nice fiddle section, while Once I Was A Rose is mournfully a capella; Bring Back Home is Hardy singing with gentle guitar; Summer’s Day/Little Wilscombe, is a traditional song about English rural life. So traditional that “In the month of May” comes into it.