Although this is their first album together as a duo, it’s no surprise that espoused duo Bryony Griffith and Will Hampson have been playing music together for nearly 20 years.
The pair, both key Demon Barbers, display a keen musical understanding on Lady Diamond, which is naturally a bit less frantic than their drums-and-bass-busy band.
Anyone familiar with a capella quartet The Witches of Elswick will be aware of Griffith’s strong, lusty voice. She imbues the songs here with a characterful, distinctive feel. Opener Martinmas Time shows off her versatility nicely - sensitive and ornamented in the verse, hearty and uplifting in the chorus. Her fiddle accompaniment is impressive too.
Hampson is an impressive melodeon player, and The Ringers of Egloshayle highlights his breathy, lyrical style nicely. He and Griffith link beautifully on morris classic Laudnam Bunches, which segues neatly into another toe-tapper, The Miller of Mansfield.
The Lady of York, The Murdered Servant Man and William Gower provide the album with a dark centre, while another highlight is heartbreaker The Constant Lovers. Griffith’s voice has something of June Tabor about it here, and she provides a subtle piano accompaniment too - all the song needs to make it deeply moving.
The songs and tunes come thick and fast, originally and distinctively arranged. Let’s hope, as uplifting final track Faithful Johnny suggests, they “come again” and make more music as a duo.Mark Dishman
July 2011 release on Selwyn Music
1. Martinmas Time
2. Arise Arise / The Rowling Hornpipe
3. Lady Diamond / Iron Legs
4. Laudnam Bunches / The Miller of Mansfield
5. The Lady of York
6. The Murdered Servant Man
7. The Heysham Peace-Egging Song
8. William Gower / The Tankard of Ale
9. The Constant Lovers
10. Come Up the Stairs With Me / Miss Lambert’s Delight / Untitled
11. The Ringers of Egloshayle / The Rose Hill
12. Faithful Johnny