The Fox, The Hare And The Poacher's Fate
Just released is legendary folk singer Danny Spooner's latest much anticipated album, with Duncan Brown, The Fox, The Hare And The Poacher's Fate. As the recording studio had been firmly booked, this was recorded in October last year while Spooner was still suffering from a lung infection. Even so, Spooner is still on remarkable form, and even if perhaps not firing on all cylinders, this is still a remarkably fine album.
The Fox, The Hare And The Poacher's Fate features a selection of seventeen fine, mostly traditional songs on the subject of hunting and poaching. They come from all corners of the British Isles as well as Australia, Spooner's adopted home where he is long considered a national treasure. For the most part these are duets featuring Spooner and long time singing associate Brown, though both singers are also featured individually. Brown has featured providing harmony vocals on some Spooner albums already (e.g., most recently, Emerging Tradition). The two wonderful down-to-earth voices harmonise extraordinarily well and where appropriate are accompanied by Spooner's exquisite English harmonica or guitar.
As always, these delightful songs also give a wonderful insight into aspects of social history, and in particular the hardships endured by ordinary people, especially with the coming of the enclosures in Britain and the often dreadful, inhumane penalties suffered by people who were, after all, only trying to obtain sustenance for their families the only way they usually could. Many of the songs are deeply moving, and all are presented with Danny Spooner's trademark ability to engage the listener and tell a gripping, utterly spellbinding tale through his songs.
Full lyrics of all songs are provided in the extensive sleeve notes, as is customary for Spooner albums, along with excellent annotations. The latter especially are a real boon for anyone not familiar with these songs.
The authenticity and authority brought to these songs by Danny Spooner and Duncan Brown makes The Fox, The Hare And The Poacher's Fate an utterly captivating experience from start to finish. The stories of the songs are easy enough to follow thanks to both singers' excellent diction, contributing considerably to the enchantment of the listening experience. Another contribution to this is Spooner's uncanny ability to make old songs sound new and fresh, and relevant.
Consistency is another Spooner trademark, and The Fox, The Hare And The Poacher's Fate is certainly no exception. Every single track is a stand-out in its own right, trying to pick a favourite would be an exercise in futility. More than compelling, this album is sheer magic that just grips you and won't let go. The nearly full hour of this album flies by all too quickly and it's best played straight from the beginning again. Even firing on only three cylinders as noted earlier, Danny Spooner is still pure joy to listen to, complemented perfectly by Duncan Brown. As with any new Spooner album, there are only two problems. No matter how long, they're never long enough, and one always eagerly anticipates the next one!
Needless to say, Danny Spooner and Duncan Brown's The Fox, The Hare And The Poacher's Fate is past essential in any good folk collection, and especially so in any specialised on the topic of hunting and poaching.
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