Harp and a Monkey are a Manchester-based trio consisting of Martin Purdy, Andy Smith and Simon Jones. Martin provides the lovely vocals for the album, and all three contribute to the unusual instrumental mix. You will hear various combinations of glockenspiel, accordion, banjo, guitar, melodic, harp, guitar, strings and “electronica” and indeed the trio describe themselves as “folktronica". One effect used makes the CD sound like a dusty vinyl record.
On this CD you will find songs about war (Soldiers Song), love - successful or otherwise (The Bride’s Lament), fairgrounds, pastoral idylls etc; all the ingredients you find in traditional song but with a modern twist - not many folk songs mention karaoke for instance.
The songs are delivered with a simplicity that is childlike without being childish (indeed A A Milne is listed in the acknowledgements!) The band’s northern roots are evident in Katy’s Twinkly Band which sings about the Rawtenstall Fair, complete with year 7 pupils from a Manchester high school, and the sleeve design is taken from a sketch by a Lancashire dialect expert.
The accompaniments to the songs are interspersed with snippets of spoken word, old recordings, and also various sound effects such as bird song, and a whistling kettle, and Polite Society even includes a snippet of a classical tune.
This CD is one that can be stand up to be played over and over again, however, I still have one question - which one is the monkey?
Released by Folk Police Recordings
1. The Soldier’s Song
2. A Better Life (The Bride’s Lament)
3. Willow and the Ghost
4. Katy’s Twinkly Band
5. Old Wive’s Tales
6. Absent Father (Letter from a Falkland’s Veteran)
7. Blind Mice
8. Polite Society
9. Harp and a Monkey (Home for Tea)
10. Digging Holes
11. Serenade for a Winter’s Day