‘Shakespeare Songs’ - The Company of Players - original music and songs inspired Shakespeare’s themes

(January 16, 2018)

The works of the bard set to music ... not the first time but this time executed with considerable Shakespeare Songs - The Company of Playersskill and panache.The latest concept ‘Shakespeare Songs’ to mark the 400th of William Shakespeare’s death, is by The Company of Players a multi-instrumentalist folk group comprising some outstanding artists from the UK folk and acoustic scene. Together they’ve created original music and songs woven around and inspired by Shakespeare’s narratives, dramas, sonnets and themes, they’ve also allied them to contemporary issues. The result is something rather special and certainly not only the province of ‘Shakespeareophiles’, there is no requirement to know or even like the bard’s work to appreciate this album ... although those of us with a long-time love of Shakespeare’s works will find many moments to identify when his words and phrases come shining through.

There are ten tracks to enjoy, each tending and nurturing its theme to perfectly reflect a Shakespearian essence. The sombre ‘Black Spirits’ by Kathy Pilkington opens, followed by ‘Up and Down’ by Minnie Birch, the seriously beautiful ‘Gather Round’ by Kim Lowings, Chris Cleverley’s ‘But Thinking Makes It So’ and the scintillating ‘Method in the Madness’ by Jess Distill and Kim Lowings. ‘The Song of the Philomel’ comes with a hymnal quality, Daria Kulesh’s theatrical voice delivers the darkly ominous ‘Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk’ ahead of ‘You Must Needs be Strangers’ from Kelly Oliver, and ‘It Was a Lover and His Lass’ by Hannah Elizabeth, before ‘Jessica’s Sonnet’ closes.

The Company of Players are Minnie Birch (vocals, acoustic guitar) Jess Distill (vocals, flute, shruti box) Kathy Pilkington (vocals, clarinet, spoons, mandolin) Sam Kelly (vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin, percussion) Lukas Drinkwater (vocals, double bass, electric guitar) Daria Kulesh (vocals) Chris Cleverley (vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo) Kelly Oliver (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica) Hannah Elizabeth (vocals, violin) and Kim Lowings (vocals, piano, dulcimer).


Review: Tim Carroll

Click here to return to the Reviews page