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Ragged Kingdom

June Tabor & Oysterband

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iTunes Review

Twenty-one years before Ragged Kingdom, June Tabor joined British folk-rock icons Oysterband for Freedom and Rain, a unique outing that mingled traditional folk with artists like Billy Bragg and The Velvet Underground. That's still a much-loved treasure, but it may be eclipsed by Ragged Kingdom, which is just a shade more brilliant. Tabor's always had a regal, mature tone, and here, the mostly grim topics (violence and war, despair, grief) are in good hands, though at times she sounds lighter, perhaps more relaxed, than usual. Traditional songs—like the dark, galloping “Bonny Bunch of Roses,” the apocalyptic “(Judas) Was a Redheaded Man,” and the gorgeous a capella “(When I Was No But) Sweet Sixteen”—unfurl with natural grace, and covers like the fiddle-driven Dylan track “Seven Curses” and a deeply moving cover of PJ Harvey’s “That Was My Veil” are unspeakably satisfying. Perhaps the most noted song, a barebones, cello-rich cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” speaks loudest to this perfect union. The collaborators' respectful and emotional connection to the song comes through in this very original and heartfelt rendering.

Biography

Born: December 31, 1947 in Warwick, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

June Tabor is probably the finest female traditional British folksinger of the late 20th and early 21st centuries — if not the best British folksinger of her time, period. What links her to Britain's past traditions is the chilling and emotional qualities of her voice. What links her to the British present is her fine taste in material, arrangements,...
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Ragged Kingdom, June Tabor
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