|Dimensions||22 × 16 × .50 cm|
An album of unaccompanied folk songs, mostly unfamiliar gems from Australia and England, some with harmonies. Margaret’s preference is for strong narratives and exquisite melodies. There’s variety in the style and subject of the songs, so here you have a clarion call for peace and social justice, a tender lullaby, lively and poignant folk tales, a plea for Mother Earth, a rousing work song from the yardarm, the experience of women in colonial times, and an up-yours from a feisty lass.
CD Review by Sue Robinson
Margaret Walters isn’t the kind of singer to make you want to get up and dance.
She doesn’t get your blood pounding, though you will find yourself humming along.
She doesn’t dazzle you with flights of instrumental wizardry – there aren’t any instruments.
You won’t hear any fancy recording techniques either, just a faithful representation of her rich contralto, with occasional harmonies from Christina Mimmochi.
This is not a party CD.
But sit down comfortably, with some time and a hot drink and you will find it immensely rewarding.
Margaret calls the album “Steadfast” because she says it best describes the theme running through the 15 songs featured here.
Several of the songs are traditional and you will find small groupings of subthemes.
Gang by Me and Rosemarie, for example, both deal with the woman done wrong, and her tit for- tat revenge.
The Devil’s Nine questions and the Goblin’s Riddle are both riddle songs (You know the format – you are stopped by a being who gives you a riddle to answer before you can pass.) Nice to see the format in song again after its almost complete adoption by adventurer archeologist movies and fantasy films.
The Mannum and the Drum, and Back to the Kitchen Again, both deal with the woman’s role in war, keeping things going at home, though one protagonist would rather keep her wartime job and the others just want their beloved menfolk home safe.
In all three cases, Margaret has used harmonies to provide variety.
This CD is full of great stories with winners, losers, jokers, lovers, wise people and fools, and Margaret’s spare, but compelling vocals encourage the tales to unfold with all their pathos, humour and drama intact.
The Colonial Widow, for example, has its narrator marrying a man who turns out to be a drunken bully – but it has a happy ending – he dies.
The Four Minute Warning paints a chilling picture of what would happen if a nuclear bomb hit Sydney – listen out for your suburb and see how you would fare.
The Gypsy Poacher is a sad tale of how an act of kindness is rewarded with arrest and transportation.
There are songs celebrating the bush and songs grieving for lost wilderness.
The last song on the album celebrates the nurturing nature of the female gender and asks: “Shall there be womanly times, or will we die?” The answer is optimistic.
A CD well worth a listen.
CD review by Graham Blackley
On these 15 folk songs Australian singer Margaret Walters does an admirable job conjuring melody with nothing more than vocal prowess and a persona characterised by sincerity and conviction.
Although there is no instrumental accompaniment, Christina Mimmocchi contributes powerful harmony vocals to songs such as The Colour and The Devil’s Nine Questions.
The album includes traditional songs such as Gang By Me and Wild Goose Shanty and modern yet obscure gems such as the delightfully surreal The Goblin’s Riddle which was written by UK folk singer Bernard Parry in the early 1970’s and popped up as a bonus track on the CD reissue of his 1981 debut album Sailing To The Moon.
One of the many highlights of Steadfast is Four Minute Warning which was written by Peggy Seeger and adapted by Judy Small.
This stark and sobering song is likely to inspire deep reflection about the potential impact of nuclear technology.
With Steadfast Walters succeeds in taking the listener on an engaging, engrossing and enjoyable journey.
9 in stock (can be backordered)