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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Chanteyranger FATHOM THIS (the fine Barry Finn CD) (89* d) Review: Barry Finn & Neil Downey's CD 06 Aug 07

At the poster's request, this review is being transferred here from another thread. Mudelf

Barry Finn and his longtime singing partner Neil Downey have just released their CD, "Fathom This" with backing vocals on several tracks by Barry's wife Justine Donovan, and Charlie Ipcar. It's not every CD that one could say has been met with anticipation, but there has been much anticipation in the sea music community for this CD, ever since Barry posted to Mudcat that he was going to finally record some of his vast and rare repertoire. This is his first CD.There has been good reason for this sense of anticipation. Through his singing at sessions and occasional performances, Barry has brought a rare repertoire to the attention of many singers, with several of those songs becoming in recent years, standards of the sea music repertoire. "London Julie,' and "Hard Times In Old Virginia" were taught to many of us by Barry, and spread to singing sessions on both coasts of the U.S. The Johnson Girls (London Julie) and Richard Adrianowicz and I (Hard Times In Old Virginia) have recorded these songs, and have Barry to thank for introducing them, for just two examples of his influence.

"Fathom This" lives up to the anticipation in every way. Barrry and Neil sound great together. The musical sympathy between them is obvious, as their voices, though diffeent, blend with each other very well. The pace taken on the chanteys is admirably on the slow side, as chanteys were traditionally sung slower than is often heard today by performers. "Slower", though, is not to be confused with "dull," as this whole recording commands attention. their singing is vibrant and alive. Several fine original songs by Barry and Neil are interspersed with the traditional material. Some of the rarer material comes from Barry's association with the folklorist Roger Abrahams, who recorded West Indies whalers in the 1960's, and authored a book on their songs, "Deep The Water, Shallow The Shore." Barry and Neil are generous in their acknowledgements to their sources, pointing the listener in the direction of collections where they can do their own research.

Fathom This is not only a joy to listen to, but is a real contribution to sea music, introducing some rarely-heard, and wonderful songs to a wider audience. Through this CD, Barry will no doubt continue to be a conduit by which the larger sea music community learns and helps keep alive this great tradition. Congratulations on a truly great CD, Barry!


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