Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Tim Hart & Maddy Prior

This is folk post #4563536, sorry for those who don’t like it that much. I think I'm running out of inspiration. Lately, I’ve found myself listening to two albums very often, and only a few days ago I downloaded a third one, quite similar to the others. I’m talking about three albums Tim Hart and Maddy Prior did together: Folk Songs Of Olde England Vol I & II and Summer Solstice.

Let me issue a warning first: do not use these albums as pre-party music. Do not use these albums if you feel very active. Please. You will not like them and you will hate me for recommending them.
Instead, do listen to Hart and Prior if you want to relax, if you want to listen to the combination of two beautiful voices accompanied by very delicate instrumental arrangements. I read a review, not sure where, which said some may not like Tim Hart’s voice. I'm not sure if it's because I tend to like male voices more than female ones when I'm listening to music, but I can't really understand why someone wouldn't like Hart's voice. I'd personally love to sing like that; unfortunately, my voice is so "good" I try to only let the shower listen to my singing.

A little side note, before I briefly comment on some of the songs: if you’re into folk music, you may know Steeleye Span. Maddy Prior is still a member, and Tim Hart was one as well, until his death in 2009. Steeleye Span is an English folk-rock band with a very characteristic style. I won’t talk about them here, although I may do it in the future.

Folk Songs Of Olde England Vol I came out in 1968, before Steeleye Span released their first album. Although the second album wasn’t released until 1976, it sounds like a natural follow-up to its predecessor. The first one uses only guitar and mandolin arrangements, and in some of the songs you can only hear Hart’s and Prior’s voices (Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy is an example). Tim Hart even sings some songs on his own, without Maddy Prior or any instrumental arrangement (The Rambling Sailor).

My favourite songs on the first album are Lish Buy a Young Broom, Farewell Nancy and Who’s the Fool Now. Concerning the second one, I’d like to compare it to any pre-made artificial cheap pop song that you can so easily find on the radio. It’s a matter of taste, of course, but for me the difference is so obvious that I can’t help making a pretentious music nazi remark. Anyway, all in all the album is simple yet beautiful.

I only downloaded Folk Songs Of Olde England Vol II a few days ago so I probably need more time to have a really strong opinion about it. Still, it’s quite similar to its predecessor, although a fiddle can be heard on Paddy Stole the Rope. For now, I’d say my favourite songs are My Son John and Capt. Wedderburn’s Courtship.

Summer Solstice is a bit richer instrumentally, although the arrangements are still relatively simple and the focus of the album is on Hart’s and Prior’s voices. My favourites are the beautiful I Live Not Where I Love and especially The Ploughboy and the Cockney. Here is a link to the whole album.

These three albums are a very good choice to get into English folk if you’re in the mood for calm music.

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