English composer John Jeffreys was born in 1927. Based on the 26 songs collected here, his music might reasonably be mistaken for the work of a composer of an earlier generation, such as Peter Warlock or Gerald Finzi, or even John Ireland. With one or two exceptions, his writing is entirely uninfluenced by musical modernism, and any of these songs could have been written in the early years of the twentieth century, if not earlier. These songs, composed over a span of half a century, show that the strongest influence on Jeffreys is the English folk song tradition. The best of his songs, such as "Awake thee, my Bessy," have such directness and simplicity that they might be taken for British folk songs. Nearly all the songs are pleasant, mellow, and slow-moving; taken individually many are charming, but the lack of variety palls after a while. That sameness of style and affect may be a limitation of the composer's expressive range; the more animated songs, such as "Horror follows Horror," describing the terrors of the First World War, seem to be straining for effect and are less effective than the simpler ones. The songs present few vocal or musical challenges, and tenor James Gilchrist and pianist Anna Tilbrook perform with a self-effacing simplicity and purity that are entirely appropriate for the material. The sound is present, with good balance.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins