‘Half Hands Round’ from Alison Frosdick and Jack Barnaby - English folk remains perpetual(August 26, 2014)
Whenever I hear bands like this I know the roots of English folk remain perpetual. Whatever changes and developments, twist and tangles ravel through folk music (and how I hope that evolution continues) albums like ‘Half Hands Round’ will always occupy an unassailable place in our nation’s folk spectrum. This album not only delivers a grand wander through some fine traditional songs, to which its creators Alison Frosdick and Jack Barnaby add their own interpretations, it also includes some excellent original songs.
Alison and Jack use the inside album cover to introduce the songs, credit their origins (as far as can be known) and expand on the rich narratives they’ve selected. They open with an affectionate nod to music hall tradition with a ‘tongue planted firmly in cheek’ rendition of Frank Wood’s humorous ‘Man About The House’, a gentle level of comedy that returns with the title track, ‘Half Hands Round’ telling its tale about a girl taking the necessary steps to join an all-male Morris side. From there it’s a short hop to tales of slaughtering animals through a story of dour, historical inter-village rivalry with ‘Ruardean Bears’ (all good folk music fare) and on to a classic piece of folklore riddling with a less-familiar version of ‘Scarborough Fair’. Other refreshing interpretations of classics include outings for their versions of a suitably dark ‘Twa Corbies’, High Germany’ and the bothy ballad ‘Sweet Carnlough Bay’.
Alison’s voice fits these songs to a tee, lacing her vocals over simple yet engrossing tunes delivered by Jack on melodeon and concertina. Fans of folk should flock to this album – for this is folk as she is sung.
‘Half Hands Round’ and Alison Frosdick and Jack Barnaby are here: www.alisonandjack.co.uk
Reviewer: Tim Carroll