This assured compilation of balladry introduces us to the four-piece Rosie Hood Band, of hopefully long-lasting fame. Wiltshire born/Sheffield-based Rosie (guitar/vocals/baritone ukulele) is joined by fellow moonraker Rosie Butler-Hall (fiddles/vocals), Nicola Beazley (fiddles/vocals) and Robyn Wallace (melodeon, percussion and vocals) on an album that charms and surprises. The ‘seeds’ theme weaves through the work, from album title to source references and a Rosie Hood song ‘Marrow Seeds’, about plant conservation. A stirring mix of traditional, re-worked and new material.
The seeds are widely scattered over both time and content. The two opening tracks are a splendid pairing. The desolately haunting false-love lament ‘The Swallow’ mutates to Rosie’s fetching arrangement of the parting-song ‘Turtle Dove’. The almost medieval sway of the accompaniment, together with the lilting lyrics, gives the piece a troubadour-like feel. A song to be sung and played in a village square on a darkening summer night.
Rosie Hood has a fine folk-story voice, sweet, beckoning and forceful in turn as it ranges over a broad sweep of tales – a seventeenth-century Malmsbury barmaid who came to a bad end after mercilessly taunting a tiger from a travelling menagerie; a tribute to a pioneering green-belt campaigner and a powerful story about the defiance of a shape-shifting old witch. This line-up can change from buoyant to unsettling with ease, but chamber-like or unnerving, their music is sincere, sensitive and drenched in tradition.