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Fotheringay - Fotheringay CD (album) cover




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3.69 | 39 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Sandy, queen of melody

Fotheringay's sole album is this self titled release from 1970. The band took their name from an early Fairport Convention song, which in turn was named after the castle in England where Mary Queen of Scots was put to death by her cousin Queen Elizabeth the First of England in 1587.

Effectively a Fairport Convention spin off project, "Fotheringay" is founded on the wonderful signing voice of Sandy Denny (the only guest singer on any Led Zeppelin track - "The battle of evermore"), the voice and guitar of her soon to be husband Trevor Lucas, and the lead guitar of Jerry Donahue. While there are therefore significant similarities with the music of Fairport, this is actually closer to sounding like a Denny solo project, the folk influences being somewhat less here.

The album opens with a couple of reflective Denny compositions. "Nothing more" and "The sea" both focus on Sandy's emotional delivery style, the latter sounding like a fine updating of "Who knows where the time goes". "Winter Winds" follows a similar pattern, with Denny's delicate vocals being given significant dominance over the sympathetic acoustic backing. In terms of Denny's song-writing, by this time she had become highly competent at creating melodies which suited her voice well. Lyrically, the subjects covered, as evidenced by the titles, are traditional folk fare covering subjects such as the seasons, the sea (sic), and the countryside. There is however a slight laziness in the lyrics, which use the right words, but do not actually say anything by way of portraying a picture or telling a story. "The pond and stream" is better lyrically, finding Sandy becoming bored of city life and yearning for open spaces.

Five of the nine tracks are composed by Sandy Denny, one being a collaboration with Trevor Lucas. Lucas also writes "The ballad of Ned Kelly" which he sings. He has a fine voice, not unlike that of Gordon Lightfoot, whose "The way I feel" opens side 2. Indeed, Lucas also takes lead vocal on that track, delivering a fine performance. "Ned Kelly" has a barroom sing-a-long chorus, as does the Denny/Lucas composed "Peace in the end". This was released as an unsuccessful single, the pleasant optimistic lyrics and melodic chorus sadly failing to capture the imagination of the singles buying public.

The remaining tracks are a cover of a Bob Dylan composition and an adaptation of a traditional song. "Too much of nothing" is interesting as, although it was written in 1967, it did not actually appear officially on a Dylan album until the release of "The basement tapes" in 1975. The song, which was also covered by Peter Paul and Mary, therefore has the feel of a song by The Band more than by Dylan himself.

The closing "Banks of the Nile" sees Denny reverting to the sparsely backed vocal style on which this album is founded.

In all, a highly melodic album which largely acts as a showcase for the vocal talents of Sandy Denny. The jigs and reels, and indeed story telling of Fairport Convention are absent, but then this was never intended to be a Fairport album.

The LP comes in a very attractive gatefold cover, with a mediaeval flavoured illustration of the band on the front, a tasteful crest on the back, and a photo of the band playing live inside.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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