Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Love Hall Tryst, Songs of Misfortune

Washington Post, 1/20/06, in a section called "Lost Tracks" for "CDs we overlooked last year."


The Love Hall Tryst

For those who haven't read Wesley Stace's "Misfortune" -- a novel built on the themes that infuse traditional music -- satisfaction can still be found in "Songs of Misfortune," a companion to the book performed by the Love Hall Tryst: Harding, actor Brian Lohmann and alt-country legends Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor.

The songs bear modal harmonies and classic folk motifs: the too-tight apron as a signifier of pregnancy, the roses growing over the grave, the timid outcry of one "never heard to speak so free." Yet nearly half were penned by Harding, who proves himself as graceful a writer in the traditional mode as the minds behind Fairport Convention in the 1960s.

The final two tracks, by Harding's "mediaeval rock" group the Minstrel in the Galleries, exhibit the fire of Fairport's early work, though Kurt Bloch's slightly wanky electric guitar solos show a 1970s influence as well.

Most of the songs have little or no accompaniment, and although the group doesn't have quite the power or the vocal tone of the Young Tradition, the interpretations are heartfelt.

You'll hang on every word of both of Harding's retellings of "Lord Bateman" -- a cappella and electric -- no matter how many times you've heard it before.

-- Pamela Murray Winters


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