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Shirley Collins

Sweet England

(Fledg'ling; US: 5 Nov 2010; UK: 25 Oct 2010)

English folk roots

Today, Shirley Collins is the grande dame of the British folk revival, sort of an English equivalent to Joan Baez. Fledg’ling has remastered and reissued her debut disc, originally recorded in 1958 when Collins was a wee 22-year-old lass. She was living in London at the time with the American folklorist Alan Lomax, who produced the album along with English song collector Peter Kennedy. Collins wrote fresh liner notes to this collection of English and Anglo-American songs. She apologizes for her naive approach to the music, but it’s her hauntingly unaffected voice and odd phrasing, which come from her unsophisticated manner, that make this disc so special. There is something dispassionately ardent, as strange as that may sound, about the way Collins vocalizes. She can make a murder ballad such as “Omie Wise” and a silly farm song like “The Lady and the Swine” seem filled with substance and hidden subtext—as if she has a secret knowledge of the world unrelated to her age or experience.

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Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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