After a long collaboration, singer songwriter Emily Portman and multi-instrumentalist and concertina maestro Rob Harbron have recorded their first album as a duo. Time Was Away is a collection of eight traditional songs and two poems set to music by these two first class artists under the supervision of acclaimed producer Andy Bell of Hudson Records.
As the title suggests, time is the underlying theme of all these lyrics: this silent spectator is not portrayed as a passive observer of our lives, but as a companion of our existences with their ups and downs. From the opening track The Healths to the final one Meeting Point, inspired by an anonymous poem collected in 1904, through the melancholic Oh to be Alone and the more serene The Game of Cards, this release flows with its calm stride and its profound message.
Portman’s skilful storytelling takes centre stage, her ability emphasised by Harbron’s gentle and thoughtful touch, especially when his concertina provides his unmistakable warm tone to the overall sound. These settings underline how topical some of these lyrics are, a timely reminder of the fact history tends to repeat itself and that some problems seem to be endemic to the human condition.
Thought-provoking lyrics, well-calibrated interplay and a very delicate way to present the whole release, Time Was Away is a true folk album all-round; hopefully only the first album of this duo of traditional music stars.Michele Mele
Released by Rob Records on 3 November 2022 on CD and digitally. Produced by Andy Bell.
1. The Healths
2. Borstal Boy
3. The Game of Cards
4. Long A-Growing
5. Down in the Meadow
7. The Oakham Poachers
8. The Birds in the Spring
9. Oh to be Alone
10. Meeting Point