Margaret Walters & John Warner – Who Was Here?


Walters & Warner – Who Was Here?

CD review by Tony Smith

Margaret Walters is a fine solo singer and perhaps even more impressively, she is a respected collaborator.

Anyone who saw her generous support for Danny Spooner in his last performances would appreciate how generous a singer she is.

So too would the many male singers in numerous shanty groups who have relied on her perfect pitch, harmony and memory for lyrics.

When Margaret teams with the equally impressive singer songwriter, John Warner, listeners can expect something special.

The two have collaborated on several albums.

The style of the songs on this CD might emerge from a long folk tradition of rich harmonies with clear and meaningful lyrics, but they extend into the modern era because of John’s keen eye for the important stories which he tells with insight, imagination and wit.

Songs on this CD were published in 1997 but they retain a fresh appeal.

Several songs are given a cappella treatment while for others the instrumental backing is tasteful and complements the voices nicely.

‘Kilroy Was Here’ (Ewan McColl) and ‘I Will Stand Fast’ (Fred Small) foreground voices and the cheeky question and response duet of ‘Empire Hotel’ is one where the initially intimate relationship deteriorates verse by verse and ends with salutary advice to eavesdroppers.

Backing musicians include the multi-instrumentalist, Kim Poole (vocals, cittern, accordion, hurdy gurdy, whistles, double bass, mandolin), Stephanie Osfield (vocals), Ferg Elliott (sound engineer), Gabriel Kankindji (fiddle), Judy Jones (banjo), Greg Wilson (concertina, accordion), Robert Pearce (highland pipes).

Production was by Kim Poole at the UWS Nepean studios.

Other covers include ‘The Bergen’ by Jez Lowe, John Dengate’s tribute to his father, ‘Song of the Sheet Metal Worker’ and Henry Lawson’s ‘Outside Track’ to a melody by Gerry Halloom.

The remaining tracks are John’s compositions.

‘Newell Highway’ concerns the environment and has its inspirations in the Warrumbungles.

‘Harley Dinosaur’ is a bizarre rural fantasy.

The ‘Railway Widow’s Blues’ warns women against marrying train drivers who are liable to be away from home often because of the sadness ‘every time a train goes through’.

‘Kaikoura Railway Memorial’, ‘Telford’s Bridge’, ‘Pale Horse/Gold Gold Gold’, ‘William Conquest Turland’ and ‘Not Scared’ touch on deep experiences and all tell important stories which should not be forgotten, especially about the experiences of workers in town and country.

A standout feature is ‘Piper on the Hilltop’: ‘there’s a piper on the hilltop, by the supermarket square, and his pibroch falls like sunset clouds, above the city air’.

The sleeve notes contain all the lyrics and explain the album’s unifying them, ‘we are here and we will take you where they were as we sing their stories’.

I for one, am very glad they are here.

Listeners will be transported effortlessly and enjoyably to the times and places inhabited by these various characters.

7 in stock (can be backordered)

SKU: TN280-38 Category:

Additional information

Weight .200 kg
Dimensions 22 × 16 × .50 cm


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