Danny Spooner - Emerging Tradition
Released in 2007, Danny Spooner's Emerging Tradition, subtitled (fairly) contemporary Australian songs, is something of a new departure for this Anglo-Australian folk legend. Best known and loved for his interpretations of traditional folk material, Spooner here makes a most welcome move on more contemporary Australian songs, many of which are already entering the collective conscious of the folk tradition.
Danny Spooner's powerful, yet ever sensitive voice and his legendary powers of telling a gripping story through his songs stand him in good stead on this collection, and he interprets the songs with customary authority and authenticity. His approach remains a very traditional folk one - no complex arrangements and instrumentation here, just Spooner's superb English concertina and occasionally guitar, or Pam Connell's fine button accordion for accompaniment and the occasional harmony vocals from Duncan Brown.
The material ranges from songs from the late Victorian era right through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, with the most recent example John Warner's Bring Out The Banners, inspired by the 150th anniversary in 2006 of Australian workers achieving the eight-hour working day. (Oz led the world in this, and many other achievements of the labour movement.) This song has already been fast establishing itself as a firm favourite on the folk scene, and indeed deserves, as Spooner points out in his sleeve notes, to become the anthem of workers and the Trade Union Movement throughout the world. Other already well-known favourites include Roy Abbot's And When They Dance and Bill Scott's Hey Rain, also known as The Innisfail Song.
At once captivating and infectious, Emerging Traditions is a delightful addition to Spooner's catalogue. It is also his second album focusing on Australian songs, after 2004's 'ard Tack. It follows the latter seamlessly. The one fault, if you could call it such, of Emerging Traditions is that it leaves one wishing for more Australian and more contemporary material from Spooner.
As totally compelling and thoroughly consistent as any Danny Spooner album, Emerging Traditions renders any exercise in picking out particular favourites futile. However, pay special attention to Spooner's unaccompanied vocals on The Song Of The Sheetmetal Worker. For sheer breathtaking beauty of unaccompanied vocals and deeply moving expressiveness you'd have to search long and hard to find anything like it.
Emerging Traditions is Spooner at his very finest - not to be missed! Charming and enchanting, spellbinding as well as often deeply moving, sometimes unrestrainedly joyful, this is an album that you'll not only remember for a very long time to come but also will want to play again and again.
As is standard with Spooner's albums, the songs are well annotated and full lyrics are provided in the excellent sleeve notes.
Danny Spooner's Emerging Traditions is, it goes without saying, way beyond essential in any good general folk and particularly contemporary folk or Australian folk collection.
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