A return to traditional song, exquisitely sung, in a perfect setting

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June Tabor – An Echo Of Hooves

Some artists are fated to be damned by their very consistency. Since Airs & Graces, her first solo album back in ’76, Tabor has stood apart as the finest female interpreter of traditional and contemporary song in England. Perhaps some of her past experiments with modern jazz and standards seem ill advised but here, returning to traditional song for a collection of epic and dramatic ballads, it’s a welcome homecoming worthy of the fattest of calves. Quintessential English balladry, whether sparsely arranged or richly textured, it’s Tabor’s dark voice, chilling and emotional, that brings these tragic, vengeful tales to life. Her “Sir Patrick Spens” makes the familiar Fairport version sound positively gleeful.