Over the course of this ~ 1.5-year experience, I will listen to albums I have heard a thousand times, albums I know in part, and even encounter a new discovery now and then from an artist I only knew in passing. Rarely do I come across an artist or album I have absolutely no prior exposure to, but that is exactly the case today as I listen to the #7 rated folk album on nme.com, “Frost and Fire” by The Watersons.
I really don’t know where to begin. This is certainly a unique and different sound from any album I have listened to so far, but I have to say, it is quite infectious. The Watersons are an English folk vocal group, mostly from the Waterson family, performing as a four person act, with two male and two female voices. Their songs are almost complete acapella with no instrumental accompaniment. I have been thinking all day how to describe this sound. I think the best I can do is as follows… It is one part Abba, one part The Mamas and Papas, one part Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull, one part old English church chorus, and one part Bilbo Baggins. The sound is extremely traditional and old European, in the most charming manner possible. There are a few songs that are solo performances, but I definitely prefer the ensemble pieces with their quirky, yet rich harmonies. Among my favorite songs are “The Derby Ram”, “The Holly Bears a Berry”, “Earsdon Sword Dance Song”, and “Hal-An-Tow”.
This experience is all about comparison, discovery and appreciation, and I really hope you do yourself the favor of listening to The Watersons. I don’t say this lightly, but I definitely feel enriched for the time I spent (and will spend) listening to this remarkable quartet.