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Cath and Phil Tyler

Dumb Supper

(No-Fi; US: 10 Feb 2008; UK: 3 Mar 2003)

Anglo-American acoustic balladry

Cath and Phil Tyler offer a range of traditional tunes and ballads in the English folk tradition, ranging from the dirge-like opener “Wether’s Skin” to the (relatively) uptempo “Farewell My Friends”. Cath Taylor’s voice shares the laconic tone of Steeleye Span’s Maddy Prior, though without Prior’s sweetness or range. When Phil adds his vocals to hers, as in the a cappella “Queen Sally”, the resulting harmonies are muscular and convincing. The duo successfully immerses itself in the dark themes and somber acoustic arrangements of the material, limiting itself to guitars, vocals and occasional banjo or cello. When the Tylers plug in the amplifiers for the surprising “Morning”, the results are powerful and unexpected. Despite a certain muddines from the lo-fi recording, this is a strong record showing that there is much life yet in the Anglo-folk tradition.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


Tagged as: cath tyler | phil tyler
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