'Gift of Music' - a review of the Songs of Frost & Fire CD by
Rod Hancox - Somerset County Gazette
SEASONAL gift of music comes in the shape of a new CD from the locally-based
Roots Quartet. If the prospect of female vocals floating over cello
recorders, keyboards and guitars sets your heart aflutter, ‘Songs
of Frost and Fire’ is for you.
the European influence on this CD there is also some honest experimentation
and new songwriting which sits not just comfortably alongside the
tried and tested but head and shoulders above it.
This mix of a capella and instrumentally augmented songs adds up
to a celebration of the seasonal that Ashley Hutchings or John Kirkpatrick
would also be proud of…but it is also a celebration of woman
power. Songs of Frost and Fire simply bursts with energy. With gorgeous
harmonies and heart-warming melodies. And it all seems do effortless…even
for a quartet of three.
Following a forceful opener and the sustained mellowness of The
Holly and The Ivy, the trio can no longer contain themselves as
they burst into the lush lullaby of A La Nanita Nana, a joyous Spanish
carol. Then having secured the future of all the apples in Gloucestershire
with a lively attack on the customary wassailing song, the album
springs the second of its several surprises with Lovely Mary, a
delightful instrumental on keyboard piano which although freshly
composed sounds as familiar as church bells on Sunday. Despite its
beauty, Lovely Mary turns out to be a gateway to the album’s
centrepiece, Robin and Marian, in which an exquisite fragile breathy
lead vocal is pursued (through the forest) and ultimately entrapped
by some insistent recorder playing. Despite nudging the six-minute
mark, Robin and Marian is not a second too long. The CD is worth
acquiring for this alone and if Songs of Frost and Fire attracts
the exposure it deserves I can see other artists wanting to tackle
it.But there are more gems to come. Another new song, Dream, is
a clever restless echoey a capella while Peace of Night is astonishing,
both intriguing and compelling as it juxtaposes something almost
spiritual with tidal harmonies delivered with the vocal wah-wah
pedal jammed down. As its title suggests, this song contains healing
properties. Robin and Marian may be the best song on this CD but
Peace of Night is my favourite.
Any album worth its birth leaves you with something memorable and
RQ’s immaculate closing cover of Snow Falls (a celebration
of renewal) demands reverance without straying into overblown grandeur.
Like Dylan once did, they suddenly go electric and the recorder
is ditched for what sounds like lead-guitar played like a violin
to deliver distant eeriness reminiscent of mist on the moors.
I gush, so my reservations are slight, though one concerns the programming,
in that an opening song is a win ‘em or lose ‘em slot,
and Diu vi Salvi Regina (whilst no doubt harmonically ‘correct’)
reaches a Corsican stridency which might perturb some English ears.
And if you listen to this CD a little too pickily, you may pick
up on the odd flaw here and there.
Taken as a whole Songs of Frost and Fire is as welcome as a shot
of sloe gin in front of the fire. It is mature but brave, intensive
yet familiar, fun but Cecil Sharp authoritative.
Hancox, Somerset County Gazette
of Frost & Fire - 500 Years of Midwinter Song
of sparkling frosts ...and crackling fires"
show, 'Songs of Frost & Fire', Roots Quartet bring you delicious
arrangements of traditional, period and contemporary songs to celebrate
the joy of Yuletide, the revelry of Twelfth Night and the hope of
Candlemas. Into warm, full-bodied vocals they add a rich blend of
cello, dulcimer and other instrumental spices to create a glow for
the hot punch season.
The wonderful harmonies sent shivers down my back whilst the stories
of the songs warmed the cockles of my heart. A truly memorable performance!'
Dearden, Director Bridgwater Arts Centre
in the Key of Summer - Workshop Review by Jane Durham
May 2007 Minehead. What a wonderful day!
us, including many for the first time, gathered for the "Songs
in the key of Summer" workshop.
First we sang a round written by Yvette just the night before (as
you do!) about the River Severn at Gloucester. We moved through
Cuba; South Africa; Zimbabwe and back home again. Especially for
our day, Yvette had researched an old Minehead song recorded in
1907 from a blacksmith, William Sparks. She sang this to us.
To progress from breathing and clapping exercises, to learning about
eight songs and to presenting a "performance" for our
friends at the end of the day, was a real achievement. Yvette's
expertise, energy and enthusiasm got us there. As the door of the
Quaker Meeting House was left open, there might have been some very
surprised people in the town that day.
This is something we should persuade Yvette to repeat as there is
clearly a need (and much hidden talent!) in West Somerset. So please