The Merry Wives of Windsor,
Tales from Windsor's Tavern
(self-produced, 2007)

The first thing you notice about the Merry Wives of Windsor is that there are 11 of them. It's more of a chamber orchestra than a band, in size at least. Having that many people in the group makes for some gorgeous three- and four-part harmonies and group leads. Sure, they use solo voices, but the groupings are what stand out.

They play traditional Celtic and acoustic instruments -- bouzouki, cello, viola, whistle, fiddle and so on -- but the arrangements are not always traditional; some of it rocks out. And that's the main problem with the album. When the women do ballads, such as "Green Fields of France" or "Orpheus with his Lute," the results can be pretty stunning. Doing "Early One Morning" as an uptempo round works also, but some of the material, such as "Windsor's Castle" and "My Son John," just left me wondering what exactly they were doing.

The Merry Wives of Windsor are worth hearing. They offer pleasure and humor, but the CD could have benefitted from a more careful editing.

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review by
Michael Scott Cain

29 March 2008

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