From the perky opener, "The Devil and the Farmer," you'd think this might be a typical Waterson:Carthy album, albeit with relatively new player Tim Van Eyken replacing Saul Rose. But then the clouds gather, and hang heavily over the disc, giving a much darker mood to the rest. That doesn't make it any worse than their previous records -- indeed, everyone's in fine fettle, vocally and instrumentally, and the songs are wonderful -- but it's not the type of thing you put on for light listening. The songs, like "Death and the Lady" and "The Outlandish Knight," are quite epic, but wonderfully performed; Norma Waterson conjures up magic in her voice with "The Holland Handkerchief," and daughter Eliza is nothing less that marvelous on "Diego's Bold Shore." Martin Carthy looks to the song that inspired him into traditional music on "Lofty Tall Ship," and they do ease up at the end with "Shepherds Arise," from the Copper Family treasury. So it's not easy, but it's more than worth the time and patience.
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson