Review Archive

‘A Curious Tale’ the debut album from Said The Maiden - sensuous voices and captivating harmonies

(June 29, 2014)

Sometimes you hear about a band without actually hearing the band. Their reputation precedes them, A Curious Taleyet despite trying hard, you just don’t get around to hearing them. And then when you do, it becomes obvious what everyone is talking about. ‘A Curious Tale’ the debut album, from Said The Maiden fulfils the build-up and goes beyond. Their brand of acapella, traditional folk offers a wealth of sensuous voices and captivating harmonies that define unaccompanied vocals.

Proceedings open with a traditional double-entendre song ’A Fine Young Smith’ set to a contemporary tune. Once that flippancy has passed, ‘Rain and Snow’ follows and sublime voices meld into a whole, their version of the oft-recorded and many-versed ‘Shady Grove’ is yet more one definitive version to add to the hundreds in existence, while the tender vulnerability of ‘I Wonder What Is Keeping My True Love This Night’ shows their unaccompanied prowess. And it’s not just voices, it’s not hard to find guitar and violin, accordion and mandolin, plus some sparkling accents from flute, whistles and glockenspiel. Listen to the gloriously presented ‘Silver Dagger’ and you’ll hear precisely what I mean. For me, the ‘best bits’ include the darkly spooky ‘The Rabbit’s Bride’, with James O’Hara-Knight’s basso-profundo illustrating ‘the rabbit’, the gentle humour of ‘Barrack Street’ and naturally, their stunning version of ‘Fiddler’s Green’.

Said The Maiden are Hannah Elizabeth, Jess Distill and Kathy Pilkinton and with ‘A Curious Tale’ they have woven an album that should become part of every folk collection. And incidentally, if you’ve heard rave reviews about them, including this one – they’re all true.

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 Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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