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The thirteen tracks, played with masterly skill, passion and dazzling but never show- offy brilliance, cover a wide range of Cretan musics, from a variety of dance forms includ- ing syrta, sousta, fast pidihistos circle dances and pentozalis five-step, a rizitiko ‘table song’, to a medley of tunes that traditionally accompany recital of the 17th Century Cretan renaissance masterpiece the Erotokritos. Making the point that traditions are not her- metic and benefit from the ingress of ideas from abroad, there’s a smyrneiko that origi- nated in Turkey, and another showing the influence of Asia Minor.

And, showing that tradition is alive in Crete and Stelios Petrakis is a top man in it, two tracks are his own compositions, one of them a re-recording of Pare Me Nyhta (Take Me, Night), a tune that has over the years become extremely popular in Crete, oft heard at dances and festivals and from the windows of passing cars. collections/ocora/

Andrew Cronshaw


Another carefully crafted album with pro- ducer David Travers-Smith at the helm, inhabiting its own special, delicate and enticing soundworld. The profoundly symbi- otic musical bond between Hannah and Ben has from the outset been a thing of beauty, with the pair’s vocal harmonies a particular feature. Hannah’s pure, clear voice soars aloft and boasts an unerring, perfectly-con- trolled sense of line, while Ben’s deft and understated dobro and guitar work supports both their voices.

Awake signifies a greater – er, awaken-

ing of the duo’s compositional skills, with no fewer than six originals on the tracklist this time round, most of which prove album high- lights. Opening pair Selkie Song and I Met A Man are quite simply spellbinding; the for- mer’s poised siren-song also benefits from apposite banjo embellishments (Chris Coole), while the latter is subtly boosted by a gentle cocoon of pedal-steelerie (Burke Carroll). Although Hannah delivers wonderfully crys- talline and elegant singing to die for throughout (and with a hint of Sandy Denny on occasion too, as on her enigmatic compo- sition 7), Ben’s own vocal contributions (both in duet and lead, as on A Thousand New Moons) have a beguilingly plaintive quality.

His playing is both exemplary and clearly structured, while retaining an essential spon- taneity, closely matching those qualities in Hannah’s singing. The title song ties these threads together in a lush crescendo of vocal expression (involving guest singers). A similar quality pervades the album’s three covers, especially successful being Pete Seeger’s protest lullaby One Grain Of Sand and a relaxed slow-poke lope along James Grafton Rogers’ Santa Fe Trail. However, an uncharac- teristically animated, condensed account of Reynardine (complete with languid, stretched-out cityscape coda) is perhaps try- ing too hard to be innovative.

The disc’s attractive package incorpo- rates Alan Forbes’ distinctive Tarot-inspired artwork (although sadly not the song lyrics). There’s no question that on Awake, Hannah and Ben have further explored and consoli- dated their truly complementary partnership. David Kidman Sousou & Maher Cissoko


Maher follows his older brother, Solo, in com- bining his significant talent as a Senegalese kora jali with an equally talented female Swedish partner, in this case a guitarist. This is their fourth album in the eight years that they have been playing together and they live a busy touring life, mainly in Scandanavia but also all over four continents from Indone- sia to Indiana.

Mahar grew up learning his jali skills in Casamance but followed his brother to Europe playing with him for a while in the mighty family band Jalikunda Cissokho which included his brother Solo and cousin Seckou Keita in its line-up.

Here away from the great intensity of that UK-based family band, we hear him and Sousou singing and playing in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. She comes from a family of musicians and studied in Sweden before setting out for Ziguichor to study Manding music. He, on the other hand, followed his jali education by studying at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

All this helps to explain the true hybrid that is heard here with both having a fine understanding of both traditions. Their tal- ents are easily sufficient to fill the CD without any other backing musicians though there are places where he has overdubbed some percussion over his superb kora playing.

In the main the songs are written by themselves, attractive melodies often based on kora grooves. They sing in Swedish, French and English and in various Mandinka dialects with some of the last named structured in traditional praise song form. Overall the album has a relaxed feel to it whilst still always engaging the attention.

Hear a track on this issue’s fRoots 69.


Where The Galleon Sank Stonetree Music/Because BEC5543350

CALYPSO ROSE So Calypso! Because BEC5543470

Drew Gonsalves creates a very distinctive form of roots music with his band Kobo Town. Born in Trinidad, resident in Canada since he was a teenager, he combines an exile’s love of the old-style calypso of his birthplace with an out- ward looking approach and rare gift for melody and a well turned lyric.

This is Kobo Town’s third album and like its predecessors, it’s full of strong songs and rocks and swings like the clappers, with a clear, punchy sound courtesy of producer Ivan Duran. Amongst the thirteen tracks are politi- cal and historical stories from back in Trini, along with tales of disaster in Karachi and disappointment in London. Maybe best of all is Scarborough Girl, Gonsalves tribute to his mother, which features a guest appearance from venerable Trinidadian musical monarch Calypso Rose, returning a favour as Gonsalves co-produced Rose’s 2016 album, Far From Home alongside Manu Chao.

Far From Home was a glorious comeback and now we have the follow-up So Calypso!, on which Rose mixes re-recordings of songs from throughout her career with cover ver- sions of her favourites and musical inspira- tions. It opens with a deliciously languid reg- gae reading of Nat King Cole’s Calypso Woman. Nothing that follows comes close to matching this. The album certainly has its moments and Rose remains in fine voice as she approaches her ninth decade, but the production is generally a lot more conven- tional than on Far From Home and the mate- rial sometimes much cheesier. Especially those covers. Do we really need another version of Underneath The Mango Tree or Rivers Of Babylon, however well performed? Jamie Renton

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