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Sweet Liberties - Sweet Liberties (Proper Records)
The thing that makes SWEET LIBERTIES immediately engaging - and this is before we get to the subject matter - is the contrasting voices of Nancy Kerr, Maz O'Connor, Sam Carter and Martyn Joseph, who effectively take us on a journey through song. The first four songs introduce these already familiar voices in turn, each rich in texture and utterly absorbing in their respective storytelling qualities. Nancy Kerr's reputation as one of our finest singers has been well documented in recent years and acknowledged further by such as the BBC Folk Awards. Three of Nancy's four contributions here can also be found on her superb INSTAR album, Kingdom, Seven Notes and Written on My Skin, whilst the fourth provides the album with an uplifting and lilting Music Hall styled song, Lila. Maz O'Connor has likewise received plaudits for her contribution to the current folk scene and in particular through her mature songwriting, which is represented here with three highly accomplished songs Rich Man's Hill, This Old House and Broken Things. Nancy and Maz are joined by two formidable male counterparts, Martyn Joseph and Sam Carter, both of whom make their own distinctive mark on such themes of slavery and worker's rights. The point of this collection of songs though, as commissioned by Folk by the Oak and the English Folk Dance and Song Society, is the celebration of 800 years of the pursuit of democracy. A timely project then in these troubled times. Adding flavour to the dish is Patsy Reid and Nick Cooke on fiddle and melodeon respectively with additional drums and bass courtesy of producer Tom Wright.