Silly Sisters / Maddy Prior / June Tabor

Silly Sisters

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This was a match made in heaven: Maddy Prior, the sweet-voiced singer for Steeleye Span, and June Tabor, a darker-toned solo performer who was already making a significant name for herself on the British folk scene. The collaboration was blessed by the presence of most of that scene's aristocracy, including guitarists Nic Jones and Martin Carthy, bassist Danny Thompson, and mandolinist Andy Irvine. But the album's most transcendent moments come when Prior and Tabor sing together a cappella, as they do at the beginning of the gentle "Seven Joys of Mary" and the more astringent "Burning of Auchindoon," not to mention the hair-raising "Four Loom Weaver." A few of these songs require a couple of listens before they reveal all of their charms, but all of them are worth the effort. [So artistically, if not commercially, successful was this album that Prior and Tabor reunited ten years later to record the equally fine No More to the Dance under the group name Silly Sisters.]

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