And More...

Cast your eye over those titles and you can probably guess what’s in store if Love, Death and the Lady hasn’t given it away from the start. Murder, rejected love, parted lovers and betrayal were, after all, meat and drink in the traditional canon. Here we have an apparently motiveless murder in The Oxford Girl (predictably, the lover dunnit, so you’ve got death and betrayal in the one parcel), a serial killer in The Outlandish Knight and parted lovers and a tragic death on a foreign field in Plains of Waterloo

It’s not quite music to slit your wrists by, but it’s not all beer and skittles either and the ancient instruments creak away in the foreground, Collins sounds like the girl from the village down the road and the whole package sounds like it could have come from anywhere in the couple of centuries that preceded the last one.

Not, perhaps, everyone’s cup of tea but an interesting listen, particularly when you line it up alongside Fairport Convention’s Liege & Lief and Full House or the early Steeleye Span up to Below the Salt. Those comparisons are quite deliberate. On Liege, Fairport had Sandy Denny, arguably the finest female singer in the English folk-rock sphere, while Steeleye’s Maddy Prior spent much of the seventies carrying traditional material as far as possible towards the middle of the road.

Shirley Collins, on the other hand, seems very much like the voice of the people.

© Ian Hughes 2012