John Langstaff

The Water Is Wide: American and British Ballads and Folksongs

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This collection of British and American folk songs was originally released on LP in 1959 by the fledgling Tradition label. Accompanied on the piano by his wife, Nancy Woodbridge, the young John Langstaff brings his rich and powerful voice to bear on a set of mostly rather familiar material, including the gorgeous title song (which sounds here as if it had been written for Langstaff's beautifully modulated baritone voice), the equally lovely (if more morbid) "Carrion Crow" and "John Barleycorn". As he did on all the other recordings of this vintage, Langstaff found a perfect middle ground between decorous classicism and rustic authenticity in his delivery, never condescending to the songs but never pretending to be less of a singer than he is. Woodbridge is a skillful and sensitive accompanist, but some of the album's most affecting moments come when Langstaff is singing a cappella, as he does breathtakingly on "All 'Round My Hat I Will Wear a Green Willow". Very highly recommended, along with the other Revels reissues of these classic recordings.

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