The Teacups – In Which

Album Review | Haystack Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 5/5

Celebrating ten years together as a fine a cappella quartet, The Teacups present their third and sadly their final album, as Alex Cumming, Kate Locksley, Will Finn and Rosie Calvert call it a day.  Having met at Newcastle University, where the four singers were studying for the folk and traditional music degree, The Teacups have taken their music and their infectious personalities far and wide, each involved in their own side projects along the way but always reuniting for an occasional brew.  Like actual teacups, their song arrangements are immediately homely, familiar, delicate as porcelain and always ready to share.

If you’re going to bow out, then why not bow out with an absolute humdinger of an album?  In Which reveals a quartet at the top of their game and in superb vocal form, with each voice captured at its best, courtesy of Pete Ord’s fine production.  From the opening “Agamemnon”, a Hamish Maclaren poem set to a Paul Davenport tune, we are assured of this outfit’s credentials not only as fine singers and arrangers, but also as collectors who can see a song’s immediate potential.   Alex’s own “Celestial Tea” fits in well with the more familiar traditional fare, such as “The Weary Cutters”, “Deep Blue Sea” and “Dogger Bank”, each performed with a bright and clear delivery and interspersed with a handful of shorter “Vignettes”, vocal interludes that appear to hold the whole thing together.  Bernie Parry’s timeless “Man of the Earth” is given a new breath of life with a fine arrangement courtesy of Will, which demonstrates perfectly this quartet’s empathetic vocal qualities.  The Teacups have never had an obvious leader, but have instead adhered to a democratic vibe, where each voice, each personality and each smile is equally as important as the other.  The Teacups will be missed, but the tea will still come in one form or another.  So put the kettle on.

Choice Track: Agamemnon (NSV 510)