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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Disturbing, 12 Nov 2011
Glenn "Omaha" (Devon England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Folly (Audio CD)
The vocal is quintessentially 'folk' without question: soaring at times, piercing, falsetto-fine, haunting often, traditional and then quirky. The quirkiness is perhaps more in the unusual instrumentation at times - with occasional ambient/random sounds - and the use of recorder and the humming moan of harmonium. This adds to the haunting sounds too. The strings of her backing band Cotillion are either soft in the background as in 'Lullaby for the Beleaguered' with its rolling and at times complex but beautiful harmonies [waves lapping in the background too], or chamber fresh in 'Kiss V' where a discordant guitar-pluck unsettles throughout. I like these additional dissonant sounds within the mix. It unsettles but also prevents the songs and singing from becoming folk-twee. A song like 'Forget-Me-Not' with its monotone harmonium, sharp recorders, brooding very occasional bass and echoing harmonies really does disturb delightfully. A genuinely interesting collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dusty Corners and Still Lives, 6 Nov 2011
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Folly (Audio CD)
Mary Hampton is a singer/songwriter who lives by the seaside in Brighton.
Broadly speaking we might think of her music as "folk" but she brings
something idiosyncratic and quirky into play in the eight songs which
make up her new album 'Folly'. Listening to it is a bit like opening a
buried book of old photographs in a bric a brac shop which has eluded
attention for over half a century or more. Blow off the dust, open the
covers and there inside we encounter pictures of faces and places which,
in the absence of any historical or biographical information, we are
left to construct our own stories. The effort is more than worthwhile.

Ms Hampton's voice is both sweet and sour. A delicate but expressive
instrument which inhabits her material like ghost. In a the dirge-like
song 'Forget-Me-Not', for example, she sounds positively spooky! A second,
half-heard, vocal follows the central melody like a shadow, weaving in
and out of the desolate drone and whistles like a widow in her dark weeds.
Elsewhere, unaccountable and unexplained sonic intrusions punctuate the
performances to tug at our hair and prick our skin like bitter and twisted
night birds ('Benjamin Bowmaneer') and skittering bats ('Kiss V') but I must
not give you the impression that it's all Gothic gloom and doom. Opening
track 'The Man Behind The Rhododendron' delivers a slinky, slow tango in
which one might almost imagine Ms Hampton dancing barefoot on the rain-
soaked floor of a village bandstand! A whimsical tune to entertain herself.
Final track 'Lullaby For The Beleaguered', however, invites us back into
the stark, grey uncertain landscape in which she seems most fully at home.

(The mp3 edition ends on a lighter note with a live and sprightly rendition of
'Pear Tree' which displays the traditional full bloom of Ms Hampton's heart).

An album to while away the long winter evening hours.

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5.0 out of 5 stars The real deal, 1 May 2012
This review is from: Folly (Audio CD)
There are many warbling female singer-songwriters out there but this one is the real deal. Mary Hampton is capable of scaring as well as soothing. She has emotional range and the songs reveal themselves like curious creatures emerging from the deep.

If you think Folk music is about mannerisms and finger-in-ear quaintness then look elsewhere. If you beleive that music should do more than merely entertain then Mary's your gal. She can put you in touch with the mystic and can make you believe in the unseen. Buy Folly now, I urge you. It is not folly at all.
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Folly by Mary Hampton (Audio CD - 2011)
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