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The Quiet Strength of the Oak
on 19 April 2013
I heard this album playing in a record store - there are still some around, fortunately - and was immediately captivated by the singer's voice. I was intrigued by the title too; Quercus is of course the latin name for oak. I wanted to know more about this record.
The song which was playing turned out to be the first on the album, Lassie Lie Near Me, a setting of a poem by Robert Burns. The words could be construed a number of ways, and interpreted in any number of moods, but June Tabor finds a quiet contentment, with the barest hint of resignation. It's a remarkable voice, with practically no vibrato, the warmth of tone echoed in the saxophone of Iain Ballamy.
After wrapping his sounds around that of the singer, Ballamy occasionally takes up a few motifs and goes off to develop the lines, supported by Huw Warren on the piano. The instrumentalists are understated but sympathetic in their support of Tabor, creating a mood with the barest palette of colours.
The tone of the album is one of quiet reflection, in the main. It's uplifting rather than depressing though, and one has the feeling of being somehow renewed after listening to it. Perhaps it's the gentle strength in June Tabor's voice, the ability to make one look forward with hope, rather than back with regret.
A gem of a release from ECM.