“Airs And Graces” by June Tabor - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1976Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

The debut album from the 29-year-old Warwickshire lass features 8 traditionals and 2 contemporary covers. June shows herself to be a caring soul on side 1, lamenting misfortunes which devastate innocent animals, fallen maidens and crippled war veterans. On the opening track, “While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping”, a hare is slain for a poacher’s beer money; he is delighted to discover that it’s a female which, we are supposed to believe, makes better eating and commands a better price. “The hare is innocent, OK” says June in her liner notes. Straight from the off, we are introduced to the strangely unique phrasing and delivery which will set the singer apart in a competitive field. “Bonny May” is another first-half highlight; the impregnated and abandoned maiden is left to deal with morning sickness, shame and an uncertain future. Were there more cads in the 18th century than there are today I wonder?

Confident in her delivery, the singer delivers 5 of the 10 album pieces A Capella, and “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” closes side 1 in such fashion, with, I might add, spine-tingling results. We learn from June’s notes that the piece was written by Eric Bogle and learned from Jane Herivel (at a festival in the south of England). Rarely, can a song have laid out, so perfectly, the futility of war, and specifically scowled at the heinous crime of using men as pawns. Blood stains the sand and water in the hell of Suvla Bay, as the allied forces are butchered like lambs to the slaughter. Blood, death and fire are everywhere, and all around, corpses are piling high. Legless men come to realise that there are worse things than dying, and blinded men are being driven insane. Later, the unspoken pity will be a silent killer. In her notes, June comments: “The Allied Expedition—Churchill's plan to create a second front—landed in April 1915 and finally withdrew in January 1916 with a healthy respect for the courage of “Johnny Turk” and precious little else.

Over on side 2, I’m taken with the rather more light-hearted tale of skulduggery, “The Merchant’s Son” which features simply June’s voice and the fiddle accompaniment of Nic Jones. In this post-coital sobering-up battle of the sexes, the roving lad is defeated by the beggar girl who makes-off with his belongings at the crack of dawn. June’s oft-repeated chant of “Fal al the dooral i do, Fal al the day” leaves the impression that he’s taken it philosophically. Could be she’s taunting him, mind you. Which side are you on? The album finishes beautifully with “Pull Down Lads”, written by John Tams, about the departure of the funfair from any town, every town. “We've made some brass, you've had a lass, it's perhaps as well we're going. I know how it can hurt, lads, to leave her standing there, but there's often tears, and there's always fears, but you'll be back next year.” It’s a bittersweet finale – and this seems to fit as a perfect parting shot on June’s highly-charged debut.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [01:44] 7.0.png June Tabor - While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping (Traditional) Folk
A2 [04:38] 5.9.png June Tabor - Plains Of Waterloo (Traditional) Folk
A3 [04:53] 7.3.png June Tabor - Bonny May (Traditional) Folk
A4 [02:54] 6.5.png June Tabor - Reynardine (Traditional) Folk
A5 [06:19] 10.0.png June Tabor - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (Eric Bogle) Folk
B1 [05:07] 6.0.png June Tabor - Young Waters (Traditional) Folk
B2 [04:58] 5.2.png June Tabor - Waly Waly (Traditional) Folk
B3 [02:36] 7.3.png June Tabor - The Merchant’s Son (Traditional) Folk
B4 [03:49] 5.0.png June Tabor - Queen Among The Heather (Traditional) Folk
B5 [02:55] 7.2.png June Tabor - Pull Down Lads (John Tams) Folk

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved