John Roberts & Tony Barrand

Dark Ships in the Forest

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This disc is a reissue of an LP which originally came out who-knows-when (Folk Legacy's insert copy is typically reticent on that score), and consists of one well-known old ballad ("The Foggy Dew"), several songs from the Child collection, and a number of other, more obscure tunes, all chosen for their supernatural themes (though, as the artists acknowledge in the liner notes, "The Foggy Dew" is something of a stretch in that regard). Roberts and Barrand are accompanied by Fred Breunig and Steve Woodruff, both of whom play fiddle and button accordion. As one might imagine, the resulting sound is stark and, it must be said, haunting; the subject matter of the songs, all of which deal with such topics as magical flora, woodland enchanters, and the ghosts of dead children and lovers, only adds to the eerie tone of the proceedings. These two really are remarkable singers; I've never been able to figure out which one sings which part, but whoever sings tenor has a sound that cuts like a reed whizzing through the air, while the baritone singer moans with a plaintive, almost nasal sound. Description doesn't work, obviously these two must be heard to be appreciated.

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