Take to the Green Fields
‘That’s Peter and Barbara Snape you have just been listening to, lovely singer is Barbara and a grand box player is Peter,’ said the chap sitting next to me. It was the first time I’d heard them and what he said was absolutely right; it would have been great to hear more but this was late on in a pub session so, sadly, we heard no more of them that afternoon.
Happily with their debut CD many more of us can enjoy the playing and singing of the Snapes.
Barbara has a particularly clear voice that means you hear every word, even in the ditties of Gracie Fields sung in a broad Lancashire accent. The years of singing on the folk scene have given her the experience and confidence to sing songs the way that she feels comfortable with. Peter has a light touch to his playing of the melodeon that is not only a pleasure to listen to, but complements Barbara’s singing admirably. Admittedly, I found you had to be a little patient with this recording. It was on about the third time of playing that the quality of the performances started to really impress. Perhaps a lift from some friends in the odd chorus or a live recording or two would have enhanced the CD. But I found myself joining in and you will no doubt do the same, so from that point of view, there will be endless variants of choruses.
The choice of material is wide and reasonably varied, with a particularly fine rendition of ‘Bold Privateer’. There is nothing flashy about Take to the Green Fields, no gimmicks, just a well-crafted and presented CD that is worthy of your collection.
Peter and Barbara Snape - Take to the Green Fields
Luke's Row Music, LRCD002
I hadn’t heard of this couple before receiving the CD to review. Having listened to it, I hope I’ll come across them playing and singing at Whitby Folk Week this summer. They’re what I think of as straightforward folk club performers: they obviously love the songs they select, and they come up with a good selection. There are some lovely melodies here, including some well-chosen variants of some fairly widespread songs.
Barbara sings with a clear unaffected voice, calm and understated, occasionally adding a guitar accompaniment. Peter doesn’t sing but supplies a light and relatively uncluttered melodeon accompaniment to most of Barbara’s songs as well as a couple of solo tunes. There’s a real individuality in his playing: nothing flashy, not in the slightest, but he plays with a ‘voice’ that you feel you’d recognise immediately, just like you’d recognise a singing or speaking voice once you heard it a time or two. He’s played melodeon with Garstang Morris Dancers, and you can hear the morris in him.
Barbara began singing at the Liverpool Trad Club as a teenager. Her repertoire here is pretty electic, with half a dozen songs of Irish provenance, a Scottish, a couple of English, and a couple of music hall and Gracie Fields songs.
Top highlight for me is The Dandy Factory, a song by Nick Caffrey about a loom-smashing riot in Blackburn and neighbouring towns in 1826 – 6000 people involved, six killed, and a total of 100 looms destroyed in four days. A beautiful tune, but unfortunately it’s the one track on the CD where I can’t catch every word. A tremendous song nevertheless.
Many years ago, when the world was young, Steeleye Span had this great Irish song The Hills of Greenmore about the hunting of a particular hare. I really enjoyed them then, their golden age IMHO, and I absolutely loved this one. Barbara and Peter Snape give us The Hills of Granemore — same tune, maybe even the same words, and absolutely excellent. In its light understated way, I even prefer it to Steeleye.
Other highlights (personal preference only of course) are The Lover’s Ghost, a night visiting song learnt from Len Graham; Bold Privateer; Loving Hannah, from Jean Ritchie via Jeannie Robertson; Slieve Gallon Brae; and Peter Snape’s own tune The Lengthman’s Hornpipe.
Not flashy performers: very nice album.
Stirrings (folk roots and acoustic music in South Yorks and beyond No 139 — June/September 2009)
...they work well together, and their clear enjoyment of the activity radiates through their performances, both live and on this CD...Barbara sings with a solid tone and a firm, confident range; she knows exactly where she is taking the songs...Peter's playing is lively, with an appealing spring in its step and thoughtful embellishments of the melodic lines...I particularly liked The Lover's Ghost and Bold Privateer and Slieve Gallon Brae are especially persuasively sung, with a combination of ebullience and charm...
David Kidman, Tykes’ News — Spring 2009
...a debut that radiates warmth and involvement, based on an accessible blend of music and song, founded on their love of, and respect for the tradition...Peter's melodeon provides a solid and at times stunning base for Barbara's voice and guitar to flow over...these substantial 15 tracks prove their worth with considerable aplomb...never trying to be anything they are’nt, and boasting no chinstuds or tattoos either, it’s been a real joy to have seen Peter and Barbara live at Whitby and Fylde Festivals this summer...
Clive Pownceby, Folk North West — December 2008
Lancashire based husband-and-wife team (Barbara sings and plays guitar, Peter’s on melodoen) present a likeable, well balanced set of folk club material...mostly trad. songs, some tunes and music hall...consistent, lively, solid and unpretentious...
fRoots — March 2009