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Cupola:Ward - Bluebell (Betty Beetroot)
The combination of the three-piece Cupola and the singular Lucy Ward is a Derbyshire marriage made in musical heaven. Whilst nodding to the instrumental prowess on display, it is the fusion of the entwined voices rising above all and every subject matter on display, creating a joyous sound, that pervades the whole of the album and makes it a delight that both demands and receives repeated listens. Ranging from rocking tales of female wartime industry and emancipation, through Taoist philosophical ramblings of the humorous kind, ancient hymns, traditional tales and a downright strange pairing (more of which later), the lyrical content contributes as much to the enjoyment of the album as do the instrumental talent and the vocal harmony.
Whilst many of the songs are traditional in origin, there is an inventiveness in either the way that they are delivered, or the manner in which words and music from different sources are combined to bring something new to each. As hinted at earlier, the combination of the words to Nowhere Man with the music from a traditional 18th century dance tune, give a fresh feel to the Lennon and McCartney classic in a way that is much more satisfactorily experienced than described.
Whilst each song on the album brings something worthwhile to the party, special mention is deserved by their take on Willie’s Lady. Apparently taken from a 19th-century collection of popular ballads by Francis James Child and set to the music of a Breton drinking song written by a piper who became a tramp on the streets of Paris (but of course we all knew that already), the story within the track is even more tortuous than its origins. A darkly sinister and twisted tale of love, bitterness, magic, cunning and more (no spoiler here), that took three listens, 20 miles of Suffolk and four of the finest minds of a generation to finally unravel, though much fun was had in the process. To go with the old cliche you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, your entertainment is guaranteed and other than that what more could you wish for from an album. Bravo he cried!
As a little side note, congratulations appear to be due to Lucy (and husband) on what might be her finest production yet, with mother and baby both reportedly doing well.