Maddy Prior

Flesh & Blood

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Not as derivative as some of her earlier recordings, this Maddy Prior album hinted at a direction change for the longtime British folk singer. If ever a voice begged for pipes and whistle backing, it's Prior's. She never received that type of support with Steeleye Span, so it was promising to discover that Troy Donockley would co-produce and play on Flesh and Blood. He's a multi-instrumentalist who specializes in uilleann pipes and is a fine low whistler as well. Too bad that union didn't fully pan out here. Donockley had one pipe solo ("Finlandia") and played the intro and closing fade on "Heart of Stone," so unfortunately the two ne'er did meet. The best cuts are the traditional pieces, "Sheath and Knife" and "Bitter Withy" -- the former dealing with such dubious predicaments as incest and murder, and the latter a tale describing the abuse of power wielded by a young, impish Jesus. The last seven selections, subtitled "Dramatis Personae," are melancholy and personal originals penned by Prior and Rick Kemp that favor the keyboards of the other co-producer, Nick Holland.

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