Reviews



 

Peter and Barbara Snape present Traditional music in a way that will surely attract people to the very fabric that drives our lives. Too many artists who perform Traditional material do it in a way that may uphold the original traditions but would never attract inside, those just looking through the window. Peter has a sensitive ear for song accompaniment and together with Barbara’s gift for interpreting a songs true meaning, they create music that compels you to listen and take part.

- David Jones, Folk North West, Summer 2016

 

The joy that the Snape’s invest in the delivery of words and music is infectious.

- Colin Bailey, R2 Magazine, July 2016

 

The stimulating feel good factor of the Snapes' music is joy to the ears indeed.

- David Kidman, FATEA WebMagazine and Folk Roundabout, August 2016

 

Barbara is a robust singer with a wide emotional range. She has the craft to haul you into a song. Peter is a melodeon player who provides subtle accompaniment to the songs and steps out in the tunes. They have the knowledge and skills to search out lesser known material with a regional flavour, then put it across well. Many younger, more lauded performers could learn from them.

- Tony Hendry, The Living Tradition, Summer 2016

 

Their songs are well chosen and performed with sparkle and gusto. 

- Spencer Taylor, English Dance & Song Magazine, Winter 2016


Just a note to let you know that everyone was delighted with your performance on Friday night, one of the best evenings we've had. Great fun from start to finish. I'm really impressed with the sensitive way you accompany on the melodeon Peter; I always think of the melodeon as a dance instrument but you show that it can do other things to. And Barbara, what can I say, your ability to entertain is second to none. Thanks again, I'm sure we'll want to invite you back.

- Rhyl Folk Club

What a great evening you gave us, I know everyone loved it. Hope to see you in the near future. Thanks once again.

- Everyman Folk Club, Liverpool

Everything sung with passion and verve. It was a pleasure to see and hear you and I heard nothing but praise from everyone I spoke to about your performance.

- Tonbridge FC

It was delightful to meet you both last night and thank you for an excellent evening. Many people have commented on how much they enjoyed themselves.

- Tamworth FC


Upward Onward is an album of mostly older songs and tunes from, and associated with, Lancashire and the North West of England. Many of the stories evocatively relate the challenges and resilience of "ordinary folk" as they get on with their lives in difficult circumstances. Very impressive, thought-provoking CD.

- 'Come All Ye', Folk Radio Show, NSW, Australia


CD Review – Upward Onward - Living Tradition Issue 115

Peter and Barbara Snape have put together a fine body of work since meeting at an East Lancashire folk club in 2004. Upward Onward is their fourth album. It’s another confident, well-researched mix of traditional and music hall songs, poem arrangements and dance tunes. The Lancashire focus is maintained. Barbara is a robust singer with a wide emotional range. She has the craft to haul you into a song. Peter is a melodeon player who provides subtle accompaniment to the songs and steps out in the tunes. They are well supported by John Adams on trombone, violin and viola; Kath Ord on violin and viola; and Sorrel Harty on piano.

The opener, Don’t Give Up, is one of two arrangements by Blackburn poet John T.Baron (1856-1922). The closer is Never Look Behind, a similarly invigorating music hall song by Harry Clifton, with a chorus that goes: What’s the use of looking back / and giving way to sorrow? / The skies today that look so black / may brighter be tomorrow. Good advice in dark times. (It’s just before the EU referendum. Jo Cox MP has been murdered).

In between, there are many more songs not found in your average repertoire. Gary and Vera Asprey’s arrangement of From The North, a hunting poem by Cicely Fox-Smith, is paired with Peter’s tune, Darwen Tower. The Fair Drummer Boy is a setting of a poem by Lancashire poet, Ben Brierley, about the Napoleonic wars. Manchester street ballads are represented by Rag Bags with a fierce temperance message and the very different Fancy Lads (related to Katy Cruel) in the voice of a lady of the night. The comic song, The Lawyer And The Cow, was collected by Nick and Mally Dow in Fleetwood from traveller Beth Bond.

Peter and Barbara are mature performers with the knowledge and skills to search out lesser known material with a regional flavour, then put it across well. Many younger, more lauded performers could learn from them.

- Tony Hendry,  The Living Tradition, www.livingtradition.co.uk


 

CD Review – Upward Onward - R2 Magazine Issue 58, Summer 2016

Upward Onward’s songs and tunes, predominantly from the Snapes’ native Lancashire, are virtually guaranteed to leave you in good spirits. The duo alone have a powerful sound, with Peter on melodeons and Barbara on vocals. But there are, through the album, fitting contributions from John Adams (trombone, viola and violin) and ceilidh band colleagues Kath Ord (viola and violin) and Sorrel Harty (piano).

They feature a range of styles and moods but always in the voice of Lancashire. Barbara is equally at home on serious moving topics such as ‘The Fair Drummer Boy’ and the hymn ‘Hold The Fort’ as on comic material like ‘The Lawyer and The Cow’.

Their research is impressive and they have in a number of cases found stirring poetry, which they have set to very appropriate music. The album title, for example, features in a dialect poem from Blackburn (Don’t Give Up). Gary and Vera Aspey took the same approach with Cicely-Fox Smith’s poem ‘From The North’, which Barbara sings here, leading into Peter’s jaunty tune ‘Darwen Tower’.

A heart-warming collection, the joy that the Snape’s invest in the delivery of words and music is infectious.

- Colin Bailey, R2 Magazine, Issue 58


CD Review – Upward Onward - FATEA WebMagazine and Folk Roundabout No 181, August 2016

Here's the fourth CD from this popular Lancashire-and-proud-of-it duo, and it continues their personal tradition by presenting a further vibrant, varied and entertaining menu of well-sung, characterfully accompanied songs with the occasional tune thrown in for good measure. It's an entirely logical follow on from its predecessor (Snapenotes), and yet at the same time very probably the album Peter and Barbara have always been destined to make, for all that all three of their previous CDs were quintessentially "Snape-shape" at the time of making. For this time the material chosen is almost exclusively of Lancashire origin (or else has a Lancashire flavour or connection).

The most well-known item here is likely to be From The North (often recalled as I Wish I Was In Lancashire), the Cicely Fox Smith poem set to music by two of Lancashire's staunchest folk ambassadors, Gary & Vera Aspey. Possibly next in line in the familiarity stakes, and providing a suitably stark contrast, is Ted Edwards' powerful and inspirational tale of The Coal And Albert Berry, here given all the necessary dramatic bite and set to an ominous tango rhythm. Two choice items emanate from poems by John Thomas Baron: disc opener (and its overall manifesto) Don't Give Up and the moving (and right-kind-of-sentimental) Homeward Bound.

Three contrasted pieces on this disc are to be found in the seminal Manchester Ballads collection selected and edited by Harry Boardman and Roy Palmer and published in 1983. Rag Bag is an evocative temperance song, while Fancy Lads is a broadside voiced by a lady of the night to a tune that's a close cousin of Katy Cruel ; the eternally aspirational Never Look Behind, which forms the disc's ideal closer, turns out to be also a Harry Clifton song from the music-halls. The abundantly stirring Hold The Fort, originally a hymn written by Philip P. Bliss which became adopted by trade unions, was subsequently collected by Paul Graney in Manchester.

The latter pair of tracks mentioned are but two of those benefitting from generous yet admirably selective instrumental embellishments courtesy of John Adams (trombone, viola and violin), whereas Peter and Barbara's EverReady ceilidh barn-dance band compadres Kath Ord and Sorrell Harty add their own brand of spirited instrumental expertise (viola/violin and piano) to a handful of other tracks including a rumbustious tune-set, a pair of jolly hornpipes that here clearly serves as an interlude for Barbara to recharge her vocal batteries (ha!). But I mustn't underplay the superbly configured accompaniments provided by Peter and his magnificently melodious melodeons, robust or lyrical as required as an intelligent foil to those very qualities in Barbara's infectious and perennially sturdy singing which has the measure of all manner of moods from pensive and poignant (The Fair Drummer Boy) to lustily comic (The Lawyer And The Cow, which was collected by Nick and Mally Dow from the singing of traveller Beth Bond).

Barbara's empathy with the phrasing and expression of Lancashire poetry finds its natural metier in her provision of entirely idiomatic tunes for the words. Finally, the CD also contains two songs from outside of purely Lancashire sources: The Poor Old Weaver's Daughter, found in a Yorkshire version printed as a broadside and learnt from the singing of Pop Maynard, and Forty Miles, a version of Cold Haily Rainy Night printed in Frank Kidson's Traditional Tunes. The whole production is expertly engineered by Brian Bedford. And all in all, this CD is one to uplift you, to provide all the impetus you need to stride Upward Onward (even without the "," or "and" that normally accompanies those words), with all the confidence and honest-to-goodness conviviality that Peter and Barbara bring as they prove beyond doubt the value of their beloved Lancashire's cultural heritage. The stimulating feel good factor of the Snapes' music is joy to the ears indeed.

- David Kidman,  FATEA, www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine and Folk Roundabout 181, August 2016


CD Review - Snapenotes - English Dance & Song magazine, Winter 2014

Until relatively recently, Peter and Barbara Snape were one of Lancashire’s best kept secrets. But talent will out and you will now find them performing at festivals and folk clubs the length and breadth of the land. And that is a blessing for us all. If you haven’t seen them live, then this CD will make up, somewhat, for what you have missed.

Their hearts are still firmly in Lancashire and it is from the fathomless well of songs, poems and history of this County Palatine that they draw the material for this excellent recording. Traditional songs mix with poetry from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that have beautifully-crafted tunes penned by Peter, through to songs from the era of the variety theatre and even up to the 1970s. Snapenotes is typical of a live performance; and the sensitive subject of hunting is dealt with in various ways, but in live performance, don’t expect a pack of dogs to join in the chorus of ‘Rochdale Hounds’, as you have here!

The sensitivity in Barbara’s voice comes to the fore in her versions of ‘Sprig of Thyme’, ‘Corby Castle’ and ‘There is a Tavern’, while the realities of life in the cotton mills is brought home in ‘No More Shall I Work in the Factory’ but tempered by the delightful innocence of ‘Now’t About Owt’. A couple of songs from the repertoire of Gracie Fields feature as well as the Oldham Tinkers’ ‘John Willie’s Performing Newt’: roll up the carpet and get ready to tango. A lively song, from the variety era, with a bit of banter thrown in, ‘The Barmaids Song’ was banned by the BBC, so what they would have made of the last track, ‘What Can You Buy a Nudist for his Birthday’ heaven only knows.

Snapenotes is the next best thing to seeing Peter and Barbara live. Search them out, enjoy the evening and take the opportunity of buying this excellent CD. 

- John Bentham,  English Dance & Song magazine, www.efdss.org


CD Review - Snapenotes - Living Tradition Issue 104

The latest CD from Peter and Barbara Snape delivers a further well-balanced and thoroughly unpretentious collection of predominantly Lancashire based material, much in the manner of the duo’s previous two recordings. Regular listeners will know what to expect: songs from the traditions (folk and the music-hall), expertly chosen and robustly and enthusiastically delivered with a spark in the engine and a twinkle in the eye. Good old-fashioned folk from a proven quality act, a close-knit partnership that’s fully assured in its research, preparation and performance, and deservedly popular with audiences. Vitality is the keynote throughout this disc, both in Barbara’s sturdy, characterful and involving singing and Peter’s solid, reliable and thoughtful melodeon playing.

This CD, while obviously an artistic progression from the Snapes’ previous offerings, is, like its immediate predecessor Revel And Rally, exclusively song-based – which is not a problem of course, when Barbara’s singing is so satisfyingly full of presence and the supporting musicianship is quite as invigorating (not only Peter’s own contributions, but also those of John Adams on trombone and fiddle and Robert Snape on mandolin). And importantly, the choice of material is as stimulating and enterprising, for a good number of the selections are likely to be unknown to most listeners. In two cases (The Happy Workingman’s Song and Radcliffe Otter Hunt), Lancashire song and ballad collections have furnished the texts, for which Peter has provided the tunes; one of these collections is also the source for Sprig Of Thyme, of which Barbara’s powerful rendition is a disc highlight. Barbara’s gift for genuine unaffected expressiveness is also a feature of the utterly charming Now’t About Owt (penned by one Ernest Melvin in 1927, we learn from the informative booklet notes) and the Cumberland ballad Corby Castle. The north-west working song No More Shall I Work In The Factory is also an inspired choice, bookended by extracts from a contemporary Lancashire street broadside that (intriguingly) parodies Stephen Foster’s Hard Times.

Yes, Snapenotes is a fine CD, one which represents the very best of the too-oft-undersung regional folk scene. A superior gig purchase, sure, and one which will prove a continual delight for purchasers, being eminently suitable for repeated home listening. One to savour and stacked full of pure Lancashire relish (and trust me, that’s every bit as delicious as hotpot!). 

- David Kidman, The Living Tradition, www.livingtradition.co.uk


CD Review - Revel and Rally - English Dance & Song magazine, Winter 2011

I came away from Whitby Folk Week humming snatches of songs heard over the festival from this wonderful duo, so the invitation to review Revel & Rally was welcome, and as I have listened to it for the last while, what strikes me is the panache of it.

Classily engineered by Brian Bedford, the disc is exemplary in its discretion and balance - real style! What makes such a refreshing change from much standard fare is the way Peter's melodeon is so delicate - in less skilled hands, it might well have overwhelmed any voice, even one as strong as Barbara's, but here it's controlled and subtle.

There is a richness in Barbara's singing that comes from experience - from knowing how far to push the boundaries and understanding just what your voice can do. And such a collection of rare gems - tremendous versions of well and lesser-known songs (including a selection of Gracie Fields' classics, for which Barbara has such a reputation).

My current favourite is ‘The Nightingale’, a sorry tale of shipwreck and despair, followed closely by ‘Leaves in the Woodland’ from Peter Bellamy's The Transports.

The project is enhanced by contributions from Jane and Amanda Threlfall and Bob Snape, whose harmonies and instrumentation provide additional musical colour on key tracks; again, the motto is discretion - it is clear that the overall concern is that the songs speak for themselves.

As I've become more familiar with the album as a whole, I find myself drawn to the more melancholic tracks - TheSnapes have a knack of communicating emotional depth and leaving you with plenty to mull over. Now whether I'd have been able to do this without the other end of the emotional spectrum, is doubtful - and the comic songs certainly provide an efficient antidote to too much gloom.

TheSnapes are brilliant entertainers, putting together set lists which take the audience through a veritable emotional journey; thankfully this disc reflects their live performance. So, if you haven't seen them yet - here's a taster. If you have - here's a wonderful memory. What are you waiting for?

- Pippa Noble, English Dance & Song Magazine, Winter 2011


Every so often a CD (such as Revel and Rally) comes into the office which reminds us what is so special about folk music - this is one of them.

- Peter Heywood, Editor, The Living Tradition, July 2011

 

I am very pleased to have your CD Revel and Rally in my collection. Favourites with me are Johnnie Has Gone, Must I Be Bound, Unquiet Grave, In the Woodshed, and of course, Will I See Thee More, which should really come with a health warning, or at least a box of tissues. Lovely stuff! 

- Sue Burgess, September 2011