June Tabor

A Quiet Eye

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As June Tabor ages her voice seems, paradoxically, to become clearer and sharper. She is also becoming increasingly interested in expanding her repertoire beyond the traditional British and Irish folk music on which her early career was built. There are no fiddles or guitars on this album; instead there are Huw Warren's piano and the Creative Jazz Orchestra, a big band complete with French horn and two trombones. So has she finally crossed the line that separates a mere singer from a chanteuse? Not yet, thankfully. While one of these songs does come from a musical, a plurality of them (including such standbys as "The Water Is Wide" and "I Will Put My Ship in Order") are traditional, and there are two Richard Thompson covers ("Waltzing's for Dreamers" and "Pharaoh") and a fine version of Ewan MacColl's immortal "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." The big-band arrangements are surprisingly effective, especially on the Maggie Holland composition "A Place Called England" and on the dour "Pharaoh." Not everyone will prefer this album to her earlier work, but Tabor herself has never sounded better.

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