Against the Streams

June Tabor

Green Linnet, 1995

Review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Thomas H. Conner, Tulsa, OK,
ThomasHC@aol.com (formerly TConner747)

A June Tabor album can fool you into thinking you've heard this music before, but her voice alternately throaty and husky is so captivating that you find yourself glued to the speakers, hanging on gently to see what happens next. Her smooth, pianocentric folk has made her a priceless British treasure.

Her latest album, "Against the Streams," is pretty true to form. This time out, Tabor takes 11 songs from a broad rainbow of songwriters and massages them into her cool, liquid sound an attentive, random form not unlike her mentor and inspiration, Ewan MacColl. The opener in this journey, "Shameless Love," glides over waves of gently rocking piano. It and maybe "Apples and Potatoes," a relatively gay medley of gypsy folk songs (full of wry jabs at ye olde Devil), are the only tunes on this album we could get away with calling upbeat.

The shiners come from the pens of other well-established islanders: "I Want to Vanish" is a smart and quietly desperate song by Elvis Costello. The composition is full of head-rush key changes over which Tabor cascades with genuine grace. (Costello would have sounded fruity if he had tried them, which likely is why he sold the song.) "Pavanne" is a typically chilly tale of a female assassin written by Richard Thompson. Also, "Beauty and the Beast: An Anniversary" is a lovely poem catching Beauty wondering what life would have been like if she could have had children.

Really, you haven't heard this before, and you should definitely hear it now.

This review is copyrighted by Three Rivers Folklife Society, 1995.
It may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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