Ashley Hutchings – Street Cries

Album Review | Talking Elephant | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

The re-issue of Ashley Hutchings’ collection of dark traditional songs Street Cries, which contains revamped material, songs altered to suit the present day back then at the turn of the Millennium, clearly indicates that nothing much has changed over the last sixteen years.  Dressed in a new sleeve, where the image of a bell-ringing ‘Governor’ has been ditched in favour of a much more contemporary Banksy-like illustration, the songs still sound as fresh today as they did back in 2001.  The thing that startled most listeners back then was the quality of Hutchings’ collaborators, whether they be the new kids on the block (Cara Dillon, Kathryn Roberts) or the established old guard (Dick Gaughan, June Tabor, John Tams, Dave Burland), their voices add weight to this collection of songs.  No stranger to the rehashing of old folk songs and putting a new slant to them, Hutchings drives the dozen songs along, joined by some fine instrumentalists, including Phil Beer, Joe Broughton, Ken Nicol and Pete Zorn.  If the collaborative efforts of those involved is key to the appeal of these songs, including the fine juxtaposition of Judy Dunlop and John Tams on “He Ran Out of Road”, based on the traditional “Salisbury Plain”, it has to be said that the rich variety and inimitability of the solo voices really does put the cherry on top of the cake, including the voice of Helen Watson with her bluesy “Salford Girls”, Dick Gaughan’s assured performance of “Young Henry Martin” and the late Vin Garbutt’s interpretation of the “Three Jolly Beggars”, a voice that is already greatly missed on the music scene.