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Park Records PRKCD67

Abbie Lathe's contribution to Bib & Tuck, Maddy Prior And The Girls' excellent album of 2002, was the first real heads-up on this major new talent on the block. Lathe's engaging vocals, mature multi-instrumentalism (guitar, piano, low whistle, percussion) and songwriting facility made their mark on that album and feature in spades on this, her debut CD for Park Records.

Happily for those of us with an over-sensitive New Age meter, the album's contents belie the wifty-wafty potentiality lurking in its title. Lathe's songs (seven of the thirteen tracks) are intelligent and observational and though a certain sense of spirituality pertains, it's a grounded view balanced by some upbeat, hooky numbers and a couple of highly original reworkings of traditional songs. Her expressive, contemporary voice is a real treat, whether alone or multi-tracked in haunting harmonic layers, something of a speciality here.

Though musically Lathe could easily carry an album on her own, there's lovely interplay and lush ensemble arrangements from guest musicians Martin Brunsden (double bass, mandolin, musical saw), Jane Griffiths (violin/viola), Tony Poole (12-string guitar) and John Spiers (melodeon). The traditional Lady Franklin's Lament (aka Lord Franklin) emerges as a sonorous orchestral march, Gail Collins/Felix Pappalardi's Two Island Swans (One Last Cold Kiss) as a heart-wrenching piano/violin duet, Paul Weller's English Rose as a bowed bass and heavenly choir-driven paean to love. Her own songs range wide from the pastoral (Curlew) and personal (the catchy Runaway) to the eco-political (Avebury) and mythical (Man On The Hill), and stand with the best. With any justice and a fair wind, we'll see a lot more of Abbie in 2004.

Mel McClellan - January 2004

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The minute I heard Abbie blending her own vocals in multitracked splendour I knew she was an musician and here was an album. It was gentle without being fey. It was cohesive without being repetitive. It was an album that picked up it's sources when they were in bloom, never mind who had cooked them before. When I interviewed Abbie for my radio programme I mentioned how brave I thought she was to tackle Gilbert O Sullivans 'Nothing Rhymed', given that Martin Carthy had covered it in the past. She hadn't realised that. It was typical of much that she is as a writer / performer / musician; standing alone and doing what she feels without recourse to whats gone before. This is one hell of an album.
Tim Moon, Haworth

Very few voices can capture and carry such emotional content. Really enjoyed the ablum, it left me wanting to press repeat on the stereo.
sarah price, dorset

From the moment I heard this girls voice I knew I was in for a real audio massage. With a crisp and intellegent delivery of a demanding vocal style, she appears to float with grace and confidence. For a debut,it has enough substance to be a classic already. I just can't wait to see this live!
Danny bouy, oxon

After seeing her as part of Maddy Prior & the Girls at Maidenhead I was impressed enough with her live performance to buy this superb CD. I can only agree with what Tim, Sarah and Danny have already said. Hope this gets the exposure it deserves.
David Welfare, High Wycombe

WOW! A true masterpiece touching, trueful and passionate. I can't wait to go and see her perform for the first time at Nettlebed folk club on March 1st.
Jon Every, Henley-on-Thames

Fabulous album. After hearing her on Bib & Tuck, I was greatly impressed by her vocals, and being able to listen to a solo album at last is wonderful. A wonderful mix of old and new, gorgeous vocals ('Curlew' especially), powerful emotion ('Two Island Swans') and vivid imagery ('100 Years'). This album deserves lots of publicity and lots of sales!
Matt Walton, Cambridge
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An impeccable selection of the best in folk, roots and acoustic music.
Mike Harding
BBCi Music

Celtic Roots - BBC Scotland

Celtic Heartbeat - BBC Wales

Abbie Lathe's website

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