June Tabor

Aleyn

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June Tabor opens her latest album with a bang, delivering what may be the final definitive version of Richard Thompson's "The Great Valerio" -- perhaps the first performance to rival Linda Thompson's. Though it is marred slightly by her longstanding tendency to get all clenched and growly at predictable points in the narrative ("He Fades Away" and "No Man's Land" from her earlier albums), that bone-chilling hymn of disillusionment has never had a more affecting delivery than this one. From there she moves into the gentle and heartbreaking traditional ballad "I Wonder Where My True Love Is Tonight," and she's off and running through a minefield of emotion, from the draining Holocaust song "Di Nakht" to such folkier fare as "The Fiddler" and "Go from My Window." Tabor's accompaniment is worth noting. In recent years it has become much artier, focusing more on piano and winds than on fiddle and guitar. And at times the art-song approach sounds overdone -- "No Good at Love" sounds jarringly like secondhand Kurt Weill. But it can also work well, as on the delicate "Go from My Window." "April Morning," in which she sings "O if I had but my own heart back again/Safe in my bosom I would lock it up forever," is accompanied by nothing more than a little piano and a dab of viola, leaving her sturdy, dark voice to run the whole show. It's a marvelous moment, one of many on this nearly stunning record.

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