Big Bertha Thistletown : Rosemarie (UK,2008)****'
The label introduces the group as “They live on a boat in Cornwall, dig nature, and make the most beautiful pre-Raphaelite English romantic music you have ever heard.” It is clear how their positively protected area provides them a different level of development of their sound, which makes them sound like a cross between Mary Jane and Trees or so (and they could fit into an imagined future series of classic obscure contemporary folk Kissing Spell type releases), giving a renewed meaning to folk and folk-rock. Although each track could have been a traditional, only one track (“dance with the sea”) seems to be. All other tracks are self penned, except for “the sun is coming up” which is by Lavender Diamond.
All tracks are led by vocalists Lydia Tweddell and Tiffany Bryant who also wrote the lyrics of three tracks. The leading voice fits nicely to Pentangle’s Jaqui McShee, something which is especially clear when singing the traditional accompanied with moody pickings on acoustic guitars and glockenspiel mostly plus improvisations with mandolins, melodica or accordeon. Most songs are led by comparable arrangements of acoustic guitars with only hand percussion, and some additional flute, trumpet or melodica arrangements. Only on “Labyrinth” has drums and is therefore also more folk-rock. On the last track we hear the recording of rain as one of the fitting elements. Highly recommended.
Musicians on this release are Tiffany Bryant on vocals, flute, hand percussion ; Andrew Jarvis on accordion, bass, drums, glockenspiel, harmonium, melodica, percussion, trumpet ; Lydia Tweddell on vocals, hand percussion ; Ben Tweddell on acoustic guitar ; Matthew Bennett : percussion ; Al Davies : bass (4,5) ; Benet Walsh : mandolin, violin, bass, clarinet, guitar ; Michael Tyack : chanting, saz, lute, electric guitar, cittern.