Figgy Duff,
Weather Out the Storm
(1991; Amber, 1997)

Figgy Duff's Weather Out the Storm is a collection of new songs with a traditional feel.

Back in the 1980s this group visited the fishing villages of Newfoundland and collected songs and dance tunes of the inhabitants. They then interpreted the music much as Steeleye Span and other groups had brought the old English folk music to a younger audience.

On this CD they still bring some of the old tunes back to life but they also include new compositions. The latter are heavily influenced by their earlier absorption of traditional music. The influences of the many national traditions that influenced Newfoundland emerge again in the new songs and tunes. The title track is a case in point. The haunting voice of Pamela Morgan combines with the modern drumbeat, but it still maintains an essential link with the tradition.

Nowhere does the wedding of tradition and modern blend better than on the fabulous "Woman of Labrador," written by Andy Vine. With a minimal backing, it tells the tale of a woman who lived her life on the wild seashore and describes her thoughts and fears.

"Yankee Skipper" is one those great "fol de rol" songs that could come from any century. It is a tale of a lady taken with a visiting sailor and has a spirited musical interlude that will lift the spirits high and have you wanting to grab your partner for a quick dance round the kitchen.

The instruments take precedence on the beautiful track titled "Rumbolt," which goes through a number of rhythms and styles. They return to the out-and-out traditional on the final track "Henry Martin," a tale of sailing the high seas in perilous times and an ill-fated end.

This is a highly enjoyable CD with some excellent new works on it. I would like to have heard a few more interpretations of older music but they seem to have accomplished this on earlier releases.

If you like fresh tunes and fresh approaches to older pieces this is the album for you.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 22 March 2003

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