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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oak Ash Thorn review
Sixteen fierce and sensitive songs, each one quite unique from the next, that inspire shivers up the spine. Most every song captures me completely, I am sat here at my computer feeling daunted by what to say, afraid whatever I might say won't do it justice.

I was attracted to buy this album by the impressive list of participating artists, more than previous...
Published on 15 Mar. 2011 by Pseudonymous

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars VARIOUS ARTISTS - Oak Ash Thorn
This album is a nice idea paying tribute as it does to the sadly departed Peter Bellamy's albums "Oak, Ash & Thorn" and "Merlin's Isle Of Gramarye". As the sleeve notes say, the album pays homage to one of the great `folk' music icons of our time featuring various artists who have established or are currently establishing their reputations on the UK folk-scene...
Published on 2 Sept. 2011 by Pete Fyfe


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oak Ash Thorn review, 15 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Oak Ash Thorn (Audio CD)
Sixteen fierce and sensitive songs, each one quite unique from the next, that inspire shivers up the spine. Most every song captures me completely, I am sat here at my computer feeling daunted by what to say, afraid whatever I might say won't do it justice.

I was attracted to buy this album by the impressive list of participating artists, more than previous aquaintance with the works of Peter Bellamy. Here is a very fine array of talent, drawn largely from the breadth of the current British folk scene, and also including a selection of American artists. Each approaches their chosen piece with sensitivity, and whilst I am not familiar with the original versions (as yet) I get the impression that each artist interprets their song with integrity and a good grounding in the source material, and that things are in safe hands.

Some of the artists chose to provide unconventional experimental settings for their pieces, Jon Boden recorded his vocal in part on wax cylinder, and the resulting track has a deeply haunting quality to it. Emily Portman sings playfully above a delicate soundscape with a plethora of textures, comprising music box, electronic effects, booms of percussion and plucked strings. Sam Lee's "Puck's Song" is breathtaking, an incredible recording that opens with extracts from an interview and song by Bob Copper("Come All You Bold Britons") which Sam accompanies before segueing into "Puck's Song", sung in a voice sensitive to the point of telepathic to times gone by, accompanied by shifting drones, deceptively simple yet bristling with presence. Lisa Knapp's multi-tracked voice on "The Queen's Men" moves sinuously through the song, seeming to leave the ground and drift skywards like departing spirits.

I have so many favourites here, the dilemma is who to mention! Olivia Chaney, for her gorgeous rendering of "The Brookland Road"; Jackie Oates and Pamela Wyn Shannon for two charming songs sure to infuse your day with joy. It is a pleasure to get swept up in the drama of the classic neo-medieval folk-rock of Trembling Bells and The Owl Service. Tim Eriksen is in fine fettle as always on the urgent "Poor Honest Men", with it's powerful pace and cataclysmic coda. Rapunzel And Sedayne enchant with a spellbinding performance of "Harp Song Of The Dane Women" (in anticipation of receiving this cd I checked out Sedayne's similarly majestic solo take of this song on Youtube, posted there to hopefully get the ball rolling on the subject of Peter Bellamy).

My knowledge of the life, works and legacy of Peter Bellamy has always been scant, comprised of little more than a few songs and fragments of his story until now, but this has been greatly expanded upon by the excellent essay in the cd booklet, which has inspired me to further fact-finding forays around the web.

There is a palpable mystical quality to this album, but this is not to be misread as some airbrushed new-age travesty, I'm refering to a deep earthiness, a connectedness to the land and its mysteries and heritage that is embodied here, that sometimes inhabits and other times goes beyond these words and tunes.

I'm excited to see what other albums Folk Police Recordings will release as things gather steam. This is certainly something they can be rightly proud of, that rarest of various artists projects where every track is a delight, and for my money I think it could go down as a landmark release.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leicester Bangs Review (2011):, 7 Mar. 2011
By 
Leicester Bangs "words-R-us" (Leicester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oak Ash Thorn (Audio CD)
Various Artists - Oak Ash Thorn (Folk Police)
By all accounts ol' Peelie was a fan of Peter Bellamy's album of Kipling songs, "Oak, Ash and Thorn". Bellamy referred to himself as a `boring, bleating old traddy' though his musical tastes were varied - including Zappa and the trad, bleaty, finger-in-the-ear stuff. "Oak Ash Thorn" pays tribute to Bellamy's original record, and brings together an interesting group of contemporary folk artists, both familiar and less so.

Jon Boden (of Bellowhead / Spiers and Boden), a confirmed admirer of Bellamy, kicks off proceedings with an attention-grabbing version of "Frankie's Trade", the song seemingly taking a backseat to a production that gets the ears working. Minnesotan country-blues artist, Charlie Parr's interpretation of "Cold Iron" is an absolute triumph - heavy and heartfelt, and a song that seems perfectly suited to his style. The Unthanks take the title track and I hope to hear them play it live one day. They make it their own and it wouldn't sound out of place on any Unthanks record.

Generally I'm not a huge fan of tribute albums, but this one's been put together with real thought and a genuine feel for the material. Excellent. Get `em all together for Cambridge Folk Festival, and you can have my money right now. 9/10.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars VARIOUS ARTISTS - Oak Ash Thorn, 2 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Oak Ash Thorn (Audio CD)
This album is a nice idea paying tribute as it does to the sadly departed Peter Bellamy's albums "Oak, Ash & Thorn" and "Merlin's Isle Of Gramarye". As the sleeve notes say, the album pays homage to one of the great `folk' music icons of our time featuring various artists who have established or are currently establishing their reputations on the UK folk-scene. Spear-heading the project with "Frankie's Trade" wonderkid Jon Boden (who has often credited Bellamy as an influence on his own vocal flourishes) creates an audio image of the hardships of a life at sea with a dramatised account in only the way he can. Unfortunately, I don't know what it is but recently a lot of folk based artists have decided to use everything (including the kitchen sink by the sound of it) on their recordings. Maybe I'm getting old but this was done and it has to be said more subtly years ago by the likes of Lemon Jelly. Then I was prepared to put up with the quirkiness of it all but it's a format that no longer holds as much appeal and by the end of the album I must admit to feeling rather exhausted. Other artists contributing their services are Fay Hield, Tim Eriksen, and Jackie Oates although my personal favourite is the (more or less) un-tampered version of the title track by The Unthanks. So, a bit of a mixed bag then but worth adding to your collection if you're looking for something a bit `off centre'.

PETE FYFE
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A landmark folk album, 28 May 2011
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This review is from: Oak Ash Thorn (Audio CD)
Utterly brilliant. There's not a weak track here. But before my review proper I'd like deal with a couple of points I've heard made: it's not Folk because someone wrote it; and wasn't Kipling very right-wing?

In fact much of the music on this album is as traditional as anything you will hear anywhere. The most obvious example is "Poor Honest Men", which is set to a variant of the "Spanish Ladies" tune. This is as firmly within the Folk tradition as, say, Fairport's "Liege And Lief" - probably more so, despite the fact that all the words here were written by Rudyard Kipling.

As for the argument that Kipling was very right-wing, it's politically correct nonsense which Peter Bellamy had to battle with when he wrote and performed these songs. Kipling was, like most of us, a complex person who held views which reflected his times, but if you have actually read him you will know that he also held some views which sound surprisingly liberal. Yes he celebrated the British Empire, but he also wrote "Gunga Din" (which Bellamy also set) about an Indian water-bearer, with it's surprising final line "You're a better man than I, Gunga Din". If you think Kipling was some sort of proto-Nazi try reading what he actually wrote.

Back to the album: one of the stand-out tracks is the first, Jon Boden's amazing recording of "Frankie's Trade" which starts with Boden's voice recorded on a wax-cylinder. Sounds like a gimmick, but it really works. I even like the Unthanks version of "Oak, Ash and Thorn" - normally I don't like their voices. Perhaps the ultimate tribute is that I can't get most of these tunes out of my head; they circle round, fighting to be heard, sung, hummed and whistled in turn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great entertainment & a showcase of talent, 8 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: Oak Ash Thorn (Audio CD)
This is a tribute to Peter Bellamy's album of the same name. That, in turn, was inspired by Rudyard Kipling's poems for children. It may sound contrived but this is an excellent album with a variety of performance styles. I'd come across nine of the sixteen performers before but the others were new to me. Of the seven previously unknown performers, Ive since bought albums by three and will probably add to that. I guess, therefore, this album works as a "sampler" as well as a tribute.
Performances vary from fairly standard/mainstream simple folk instrumentation + voice to more innovative approaches / less used instruments. The standard of performance is high throughout from established UK artists (J. Boden, Unthanks, J. Oates etc), through to the emerging/ regionally known UK performers and also the two US-based performers (C Parr & T Eriksen). I wouldn't skip any of these tracks on future plays so its difficult to point out highs and lows but my personal favourites were Lisa Knapp's "The Queen's Men" and the very haunting "Harp Song of the Dane Women" by Rapunzel and Sedayne.
The pack contains a useful leaflet with information about Peter Bellamy and his original concept + details (who's playing what) of the performances here.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Love Peter Bellamy - ah well what a shame, 2 July 2014
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Mrs. Aileen E. Grist "Ailz" (Oldham, Lancs, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oak Ash Thorn (Audio CD)
It should have been brilliant, so why did they have to slow every song down to ballad speed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful record, 17 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Oak Ash Thorn (Audio CD)
And one which opened up the world of Peter Bellamy...brilliant if for that alone. All the tracks are just great but Sam Lee's...a stunning song.
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Oak Ash Thorn
Oak Ash Thorn by Various (Audio CD - 2011)
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