R2-ROCK AND REEL
Volume 2 Issue 26
Folk Songs & Ballads
It’s a long time since Mark T was part of the Rogue Folk boom with The Brickbats and albums like Johnny There. Some five years ago he got back to his roots with albums of traditional English and Celtic music, of which Folk Songs and Ballads is the latest.
There is a fundamental honesty about this album. Mark is entirely solo on guitar, harmonica and harmonium with the minimum of overdubs and the songs are generally well known- he’s singing them because he enjoys them.
Not that he’s a slave to the tradition. The harmonica on “John Barleycorn” gives a bluesy feel and then switches to a two-note phase that echoes a hunting horn. There’s a real earthiness about his delivery of “Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime” that is is sometimes neglected. It’s the story of the funeral of a whore whose corpse stinks of corruption: it needs some blood and guts.
There are two instrumentals representing Mark’s love of Early Music giving a change of pace and this is an excellent album for any lover of traditional music.
The Bright Young Folk Review
Mark T – FOLK SONGS AND BALLADS
2011 Studio album
The new album Folk Songs and Ballads from community musician Mark T is an impressive piece of work. Drawing influences from the English, Scottish, Appalachian and Irish traditions, each track is clearly a labour of love, based on extensive research and drawing on multiple influences from other artists. Mark plays solo with steel guitar, bouzouki, guitar and harmonica, creating a rooted and yet scholarly feel to the album.
The highlight is ‘Hughie the Graeme’, a splendid version of the border ballad better known from the Ewan MacColl version. Also excellent is ‘Lord Ronald’, a name-changing modification of the better known ‘Lord Randal’ and ‘Pretty Saro’, originating in the southern Appalachians.
An impressive tie-in to Mark’s album releases is his website hosted by Circle of Sound. http://www.circleofsound.co.uk/markt/index.htm
The site offers a fascinating set of extended ‘album notes’ that describe not only the origins of a track, but also the influences Mark has drawn upon from its performance by other folk artists. There are links to videos of these artists or Mark himself performing, which gives a real insight into the creative process that resulted in the album.
April 2011 No. 334
Mark T Folk Songs and Ballads
Circle of Sound (COS 326CD)
FOLK SONGS AND BALLADS
Mark T. is a folk and community musician and this is his 7th release. There's immediacy to the recording - no frills, no overlays- so it has a pleasing 'live' feel to it. He's just sitting in front of you playing. The song and the tune selection are very interesting, with some well researched versions of traditional English songs, plus a couple of Scottish and Appalachian variants. Mark has an infectious and clear voice despite the intonation slipping occassionally. The best way to listen to this is to link up with his web-site which includes entertaining and informative sources for his songs. I particulalry enjoyed Pretty Saro and the nod to Gryphon on the guitar instrumentals, Motet: Veritas Arpie and Packington's Pound.
This definately for the folk song aficionado, with a challenge to find the source of, for example, Get Up and Bar the Door and some interesting 'living tradition' variants on well known Child Ballads like Lady Maisry. Of course, this does mean that the disc is not just easy listening or for background sound. You have to sit down and concentrate on one man's new twists on familiar (and not so familiar) traditional folk songs and ballads. You'll be rewarded - Mark is obviously a seasoned performer, and his confidence and personality shine through the whole CD.
No. 183 April May June 2011
“FOLK SONGS AND BALLADS” Mark T. 48 minutes.