English songs and tunes

Magpie Lane



Available on both cd (BEJOCD-22) and cassette (BEJO-22), Jack-in-the-Green is Magpie Lane's fourth album - or fifth, if you count our compilation, English Country Songs and Dances. From the choral grandeur of the opening May Song, A Rosebud in June and the Seeds of Love to the quiet beauty of the ballads Sheffield Park and Banks of the Lea and the lively dance sets Mother Goose and Quickstep at the Battle of Prague, this is a richly varied album. Jack-in-the-Green has a distinctly summery feel - due, no doubt, to the fact that much of the material is drawn from the songs and tunes played at Magpie Lane's Maytime concerts.

What the critics have said...
Voted by BBC Radio Suffolk one of the Ten Best Folk Albums of 1998!

'Well performed and programmed and accessible without compromising what made the music special in the first place.'
Folk Roots

'Not content with fine solo singing and instrumental ensembles, mummers' plays and dancing, Oxford's favourite English supergroup have now included choral singing in their repertoire, and to what great effect - they even manage to reinvigorate The Seeds of Love... an excellent range of material and good presentation... This should appeal to the wider, non-folkie audience at which it is, quite laudably, aimed.'
Shire Folk

'Joanne Acty's voice is clear and pleasant, well fitting the full harmonic setting of The Seeds of Love, turning more dramatic with Sheffield Park. The full choral arrangement of band members on A Rosebud In June and on various choruses impresses, while solo voices on show include that of Andy Turner, whose reading of Two Ravens is magnificent. His rich-toned anglo also adorns the instrumental mix, which weaves in and out of the songs and is given full rein on a stirring sets of quicksteps, jigs and polkas.'

'I sometimes wonder what a foreigner's (even your average Englishman's) idea is of English music. I think if Magpie Lane travelled as ambassadors of our music and song they really couldn't be bettered for a lively interpretation which respects the tradition.'
Rod Harrington, Radio Somerset Sound

'The seven-strong band are all talented musicians (fiddler Mat Green, for example, plays with the popular ceilidh outfit The Woodpecker Band) with a love of and feeling for the tradition, and this is palpable in the arrangements of the sixteen tracks presented here. There's nothing 'flash' here, no histrionics, no gimmicks, but instead a fine ensemble performance which distils the essence of the songs and tunes, and whose shining integrity is beautifully captured by engineer (and Woodpecker Band member) Dave Eynstone. This is a little gem which deserves a much wider audience.'
Buzz magazine

'Here we have sixteen tracks of English Songs and Tunes, all but two of them traditional, making up fifty-four minutes of listening. The non-trads are the title song, written by Martin Graebe, and "May Song" written by Dave Webber, splendidly sung by Ian Giles (he should be more widely heard).
The band have cast widely for material. I'm pleased to see they've gone to some field recordings - Fred "Pip" Whiting, Font Whatling, Enos White for instance, and they also credit Reg Hall as "an important post-war collector of folk tunes". He certainly is There are some classic songs, well sung, by good voices. The tunes, some familiar, some less so, go with a swing, and any lover of English tradition will be happy to browse among them. Whoever Beautiful Jo may be, she is inspiring an enclave of musicians to make good albums. The track record of this unusually-named label stand up well.'
Roy Harris, The Living Tradition

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