There's really nothing like songs of the sea, properly performed by soloists or ensembles -- it's no matter of beauty or grandeur, more one of rough-hewn presence, where the relationship to accurate musicality is equivalent to a sailor standing on deck: balance is never lost, but position shifts according to the pitch and yaw of ship according to the ocean. All of these songs are shot through with the rhythms of the oceans, the rise and fall of the great ships, the hiss of spray and the crash of the bow coming down. The performances selected for this excellent compilation are shot through with salt air, even as they're touched with romanticism -- there is no mistaking the harshness of the life that generated these songs. Performers include Ewan MacColl, A.L. Lloyd, Roy Harris, the Watersons, and others. Though the tracks are drawn from the 1950s through the 1990s, the mastering has brought them into a uniform balance, so the overall result is very even.
AllMusic Review by Steven McDonald