Things would appear to be in the ascendancy for Northants/Leicestershire-based duo Crybb. Along with various recently successful live appearances, including festivals, they are also now residents at the newly re-located Wurzel Bush Folk Club, Anstey (the one near Coventry as opposed to Herts). Although released in November 2017, this CD has only just come under my radar, and very pleased I am that it did.
After first meeting in 2010, Gary Painting and Kate Beresford came together again five years later and formed their musical partnership. The duo's group-name originates from the fact that at the time they both had small babies, (triplets in Gary's case), hence Crybb.
Aubade which is commonly understood to be a morning love song, (rather than serenade, which is in the evening), comprises seven Trad. Arr pieces along with five self-penned originals and goes a long way to ensuring that all of their self-proclaimed "Old folk, new folk, some folk, mellow folk, raucous folk, punk folk" bases are covered.
The opening track, their interpretation of Reynardine, begins with Kate's haunting whistle over a simple guitar figure, before Gary increases the tempo and the sumptuous blend of their combined vocals draw the listener in to this dark, cautionary tale. Whilst the lyrics resemble those sung by Sandy Denny in Fairport Convention's version on Liege & Lief, the melody here is truly wonderful and the song succeeds in captivating the attention of the listener from the off.
Two original tracks follow, the first, Song for Jo, a moving tribute to the memory of murdered M.P. Jo Cox, whilst musically far-removed from that of Tony Poole's Hate Won't Win on the Bennett Wilson Poole eponymous release, the powerful sentiments expressed are similar
'When you silenced her voice you made sure she was heard...
All you who hear this, take these words to heart
We've far more in common than keeps us apart'
This is followed by Driftwood Bone, a lilting song of displacement, uncomfortable possession and an elusive sense of belonging, which showcases the compositional skills of the duo. The marrying of Kate's whistle with the guitar being very effective, reminiscent of Dr. Strangely Strange, for those of us of an older persuasion
The classic Appalachian love song, Fair and Tender, also known as (Come all Ye) Fair & Tender Ladies, and recorded by luminaries such as Peggy Seeger, Jon Boden (with the title Sparrow) and Hunter's Law is given an outing before two compositions from Gary. The first, Tax Song, is a ranty protest song
'Big brother's busy watching you watching me
Controlling all you do controlling all you see
Democracy by proxy so that none may have their say
Work like automatons and surrender all your pay'
whereas the second, Falling Backwards is a beautifully delivered, gentle reflection of re-focussing on life and making fresh starts, following adverse events. To these ears the song presents an ostensibly optimistic vision of light shining through the darkness.
With interpretations of the traditional Blue Cockade and Steve Knightley's Cousin Jack following, there is a nod in the direction of Show Of Hands. The former, a song also known as My Love Has 'Listed tells of the fortunes of a girl and her young man who leaves her to join the army and is one of first songs to appear in Crybb's repertoire when they formed, whilst their arrangement of Steve Knightley's song, once more with the judicious addition of whistle, again brings a fresh approach to this popular modern classic.
The version of Bushes and Briars offered here is not the song on Sandy by Sandy Denny, rather an arrangement of the traditional one performed by, amongst others, Isla Cameron, June Tabor, Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr, and Coope Boyes & Simpson. With Kate being joined on vocals by Kathryn Evans, this track has a beguiling, celestial sound, reminiscent of a medieval ecclesiastic chant.
The penultimate piece sees a thoughtful, melancholic song penned by Gary. Tracks tells of a mother leaving her family home and questions how we can be strangers to those nearest us. Here, Gary's bouzouki accompaniment makes for a rewarding counterpoint to the lyrical content.
The duo's arrangement of the traditional Parting Glass, utilising the words also used by The Witches of Elswick in their recorded version, is a highly appropriate song on which to bring the album to a close, given that The Parting Glass was often the song of choice to bring an evening to a close.
It is obvious that a great deal of thought and effort has gone into this release, from song selection, through recording values, (the album was recorded 'live' in the studio), and the superb art work. Crybb's Aubade is a welcome addition to the various illustrious Aubades of Phillip Larkin, Poulenc, Ravel and Satie and well worth seeking out.
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