Deborah Rose is an established presence on the UK folk scene, an ethereal vocal talent owing more in spirit to the late, great Sandy Denny than the commercial sound of Laura Marling or her stadium folk peers. And it’s the voice of this Welsh-born but Severn Valley resident songstress that rings clear and transcendent, unifying these ten trad-folk, country, bluegrass and Celtic folk ballads into a coherent whole. A whole which breathes new, searching green life into the deep roots of standards like Cuckoo, Little Maggie – and the Merle Haggard signature If Only I could Fly.
This whole release has an an unhurried, effortless but verdant beauty, which perhaps also reflects the vast experience and technical skill of the collaborators here. Including as they do the The O’Farrells Frolicks (better known to most of you as sisters Hetti & Mari Randle of Vault of Eagles plus mum Lindsey and sister Lucy), Ludlow’s Greywolf, and one Mr Robert Plant. The presence of the man from Shatterford is subtle, and vocally unrecognisable. But is unmistakeable in the quietly trans- Atlantic feeling and flawless arrangement of the first five tracks (on which he is listed simply as backing vocalist), such as the exquisite opener Bright Morning Star.
The second half of this album takes matters deep into the mists Gaelic folk territory. Ballads like Danny Boy, Little Beggar Man and The Sky Boat Song being given bright, fresh- sounding treatments. Again Deborah Rose’s singular voice weaves into the crisp instrumentation with precision, the traditional pipes and flutes being deployed with consideration and never being overstated as they sometimes can. There is also little of the fey or the whimsical about these interpretations. Indeed, perhaps the stand out of the entire album is the crystalline- sharp take on the luminous W B Yeats-esque imagery and dark folk memory of Foggy Dew, a spiritual giant of a song that exemplifies the timeless emotional power of folk at its very best.
D B Schenker, Slap Magazine
SLAP Magazine, Page 35 – View Original