Various Artists

Shining Bright: Songs of Mike & Lal Waterson

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In the 1960s, the Watersons carved out a reputation as England's premiere traditional folk family. It was somewhat of a shock, then, when brother and sister Mike and Lal Waterson recorded Bright Phoebus in 1972. The album departed from strict traditionalism by using all original material and by incorporating folk-rock musicians like Richard Thompson and Martin Carthy. In 2002, 30 years later, a number of England's finest singers have gathered to pay tribute to the songs that Mike and Lal Waterson wrote during this period. An incredibly eclectic disc, Shining Bright has been assembled from 15 different sessions. Many of the results are stunning. Maddy Prior's vocals on "Winifer Odd" are bolstered by a bouncy acoustic guitar, an atmospheric bass, and multi-tracked harmony, while Helen Watson and Heather Greenbank's version of "Shine" receives an equally attractive arrangement. The standout track among many fine tracks is Linda and Teddy Thompson's take on "Evona Darling." Teddy Thompson's vocal is achingly beautiful and melds flawlessly with his mother's. There's also an interesting bit of accordion and B-3 organ added to the track courtesy of Van Dyke Parks. Another nicely done piece is Norma Waterson's (Mike and Lal's sister) rendition of "Song for Thirza." Waterson's voice seems to just keep getting better and better, and her reading of this emotionally bare lyric is stately. Shining Bright finally serves two purposes: first, to remind younger listeners of the talented pair who made Bright Phoebus, and next, to showcase a number of Britain's best and brightest folksingers. A lovely collection.

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