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Reg Meuross and Harbottle & Jonas - Songs of Love and Death

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 1 / 3 / 2022



Reg Meuross and Harbottle & Jonas - Songs of Love and Death
Label: Hatsongs Records
Format: CD

intro

Perfect collaboration between folk legend Reg Meuross and Harbottle and Jonas featuring their take on ten traditional folk songs.


Many moons ago we hailed Reg Meuross as a ‘master storyteller; that was on hearing the Somerset-based singer/songwriter for the first time and it still holds true. Meuross has released thirteen solo albums during his thirty-year musical career and his original songs are fascinating snapshots of life; some political, some historical, acts of bravery and ever-present is the subject of love, life and death. Like many folk songs stretching back decades. It wasn’t until ‘Songs Of Love and Death’ arrived though that it struck me that Meuross had shied away from releasing a set of the traditional folk songs that were so obviously close to his heart. It’s also, strangely, for a singer in the folk genre, not a path he was expected to take. Meuross’ own tales were so honest, so believable and delivered in his inviting voice that there really was no room for any thoughts of Meuross needing to deliver his interpretation of songs that so many other folk artists had tried to put their own stamp on. Meuross was, and still is, one of our finest songwriters. His songs are fascinating little stories set to music. He really is in a class of his own. During lockdown Meuross was approached by Devon-based acclaimed folk duo Harbottle & Jonas to contribute to their 'Saving The Good Stuff' video series. It’s a set of live videos worth checking out, not just for Meuross’ involvement; the husband-and-wife duo of Freya Jonas and David Harbottle are simply superb,. Apart from keeping the folk-flag flying, they are both excellent vocalists and musicians and deserve all the acclaim they receive. This initial collaboration between Meuross and the duo was intended as a one-off but soon evolved into a set of ten traditional folk songs forming an album, something that Meuross, who was obviously familiar with the songs, had not thought of before. Given the quality of his own original songs there really was no need for Meuross to go down the traditional route but we should thank Harbottle & Jonas for inspiring this move. Although Meuross takes lead vocals, the contributions from Harbottle and Jonas really shouldn’t be relegated to second place. While it’s impossible not to be drawn in by Meuross’ friendly, inviting vocals the harmonies provided by Harbottle and Jonas are, at times, spine-chillingly beautiful. Apart from John Rawlinson’s Autoharp on ‘Anachie Gordon’ all the instruments are played by the trio. Meuross, of course, plays guitars, as well as mountain dulcimer and harmonica while Freya Jonas adds concertina, harmonium, piano and vocals and David Harbottle contributes acoustic guitar, bass and the cittern as well as vocals. The sound these musicians make together is simply breathtaking. It’s not only in the way their vocals blend so beautifully, but it’s in the inspired arrangements and instruments they have chosen to frame those vocals in. Folk music is, at times, given a hard time by those not touched by the sound and who have a blinkered view of anything labelled ‘folk’. ‘Songs Of Love & Death’ obviously, given the choice of songs and the background of the creators, has its roots firmly in the folk genre but the arrangements and contributions from the trio really do add new life and a contemporary feel to these oft-covered songs. Maybe its because of his gentle vocal stylings but at times it feels like you’re listening to a new Reg Meuross track than a traditional folk song that’s decades if not centuries old. Even the most causal folk music fan will be familiar with the songs chosen for this project and dedicated folk devotees might well feel that we’ve already heard enough versions of all of these songs. While we all have our favourite version of some of these selections it can’t be stated enough that Meuross, Harbottle and Jonas really do take the songs to places previously undiscovered. The various instruments so expertly played combined with three exceptional vocalists (the harmonies provided by Freya Jonas alone will have the listener searching out more of her work; her vocals here are outstanding) will make these interpretations the ones to go for in the future. It’s pointless picking out single tracks or suggesting which of the many previous versions of the songs this trio’s interpretations closely resemble; there are few who have brought out the beauty in these songs as well as this trio. ‘Songs Of Love & Death’ will appeal to a much wider audience than the usual folk crowd; let’s hope the trio keep releasing albums of their original songs and pick another selection of traditional songs for a future project together. The trio sound so natural singing and playing together on these songs, like they were meant to make this music together, we need more of the same please.



Track Listing:-
1 She Moved Through The Fair
2 As I Roved Out
3 Lord Franklin
4 Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy
5 Oxford Girl
6 Lord Randall
7 Barbary Allen
8 Anachie Gordon
9 The Trees They Do Grow Hig
10 I Wish The Wars Were All Over


Band Links:-
http://www.regmeuross.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RegMeurossMusic
https://twitter.com/regmeuross
https://www.harbottleandjonas.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HarbottleandJonas
https://twitter.com/Harbottle_Jonas


Label Links:-
http://www.propermusic.com/label/Hatsongs-1068


Play in YouTube:-


Have a Listen:-






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