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Lady Maisery Lady Maisery
Album: Cycle
Label: Rootbeat
Tracks: 11

The third album has caused problems for more than one performer. You're no longer the new kid on the block nor yet firmly established. Can that initial drive and spark be sustained? The excellent news is that Lady Maisery have cleared this hurdle with flying colours and their third album "Cycle" is something to really get your teeth in to. It is a cycle, too, taking the listener through days, seasons and time whilst showing that nothing really changes even when we are in the midst of change.

Lady Maisery are Hannah James , Hazel Askew and Rowan Rheingans who between them create intricate harmonies and innovative song without ever shying away from difficult social issues. All of these aspects of their music appear on this album.

It opens with "Sing For The Morning", an exultation of all that is bright and hopeful about a new day. The song was written by Rowan Rheingans during a bicycle holiday across France and includes the first diddling on the album. Diddling, or tune singing, is fast becoming a Lady Maisery trade mark and involves using the voice as another instrument to very good effect. "Eostre" - or Easter - is another diddling song which could possibly become a standard of choral societies anywhere. Without a single spoken word they convey all the hope spring brings after the gloom of winter.

Spread throughout the album are three short songs reflecting the seasons and cycle of the year. They're all traditional tunes, simply arranged, using natural sounds of birdsong or water as their main accompaniment. This celebration of the natural world, coupled with a desire for a simpler, more egalitarian society, leads to the second theme found in Lady Maisery's work. They are political musicians, though not of the strident variety, who believe firmly that equality within society is the best - only - model for a fair world.

The Todd Rundgren written "Honest Work" pairs well with "Digger's Song" written well over 100 years ago as they have in common the story of ordinary people losing out to progress and a new world that should, in theory, make life better for everyone. The cycle of jobs lost to mechanisation and profit remains as closed now as it always has been.

The final cycle is the ultimate one of life and death. "A Father's Lullaby" is a rather heartbreaking song from Hannah Askew about a father taking his only child to an orphanage following the death of his wife in childbirth, as he is unable to care for it. It's beautifully sung and again simply backed; less is certainly more for such a subject. "Order & Chaos", also from Hazel, is another song about death and probably the only folk song written about Physics, particularly the Law of conservation of energy. Even in death we remain as part of the world forever, which is rather comforting

Nothing's lost, nothing's found
It all just moves round and keeps us from falling apart.
Lay me down, set me free, oh part of this world I'll still be
You'll not find me in order but chaos.

Despite the rather gloomy topics this is an album celebrating life in all it forms and the beautiful harmonies, backed by just the right amount of music, produced by these three talented artists give an overwhelming sense of hope. It's a beautiful album displaying the trio at their very best.

The album is released on 28th October and is available to pre-order from

Tony Birch