Walter Pardon

A World Without Horses

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The album is subtitled "A Portrait of a Traditional Singer," and that's truth in advertising. Taken from several sessions recorded during the '70s, this offers a full picture of Walter Pardon's remarkable talents as a singer. Some of the songs are fairly well-known ("The Dark Eyed Sailor" and "The Trees They Do Grow High," for example), but others, like "The Cunning Cobbler," aren't as familiar. The joy throughout is in the way Pardon lets the songs, especially the ballads he performed so well, unfold like a story. He's not a professional by any means, but a village singer, and his voice is a voice of the people, a conduit of history and tradition. In his singing and accent, the old ways, specifically of his native Norfolk, remain very much alive, and are as vibrant as any of the updated versions of any of these songs. Unaccompanied singing is a dying art, but in Pardon and his near neighbor, Harry Cox, Norfolk had two of the finest singers ever to emerge from England, and his death in 1996 meant another link with the past was severed. But thanks to these recordings, he lives on vividly, as does history.

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