Although Norma Waterson has been a fixture of the English folk scene for 35 years, Bright Shiny Morning is only her second solo album (her first, Norma Waterson, was released in 1996). She has remained a fixture due to her resonant voice and the depth of her interpretations of traditional English songs. From "The Chaps of Cockaigny" to "My Flower, My Companion & Me" Waterson's voice stands front and center, filled with romantic trills and often expressing a deep sadness. The individual arrangements add spice to this material, from the piano accordion on "Three Maids A-Milking" to the brass of "Barbary Allen." "Game of All Fours" is sung without accompaniment, recalling other traditional singers like Anne Briggs. Waterson writes, "All these songs, one way or another, are love songs," but love doesn't always go as one would like it to. Indeed, "One April Morning" carries the unhappy refrain, "Young men are false/young men they are deceitful." "Green Grows the Laurel" finds the narrator sadly parted from her lover, turned out of her home, and left to ramble with her baby. The artist receives a great deal of support from Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, and harp player Mary Macmaster, each tastefully adding touches that serve the voice of the singer. Eliza Carthy also receives credit for the fine production of Bright Shiny Morning, which has a crisp, vivid sound-brighter perhaps than one might expect for strict traditional music, but it works perfectly. Waterson has created a lasting artistic statement, and fans can only hope that she doesn't wait quite as long for her next effort.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.