June Tabor is an English folk musician who has been active in the music scene since 1972. Tabor was notably influenced by Anne Briggs, an English folk singer who was active mostly in the 1960s and early 1970s; Anne Briggs has been cited by many other English folk musicians as an influence. It seems that Tabor has collaborated with a number of other folk artists and groups through the years, including Maddy Prior, Oysterband, and Fairport Convention, just to name a few. Though Tabor’s most recent solo album was released a decade ago, she has collaborated on a few albums in the past few years with other artists. This album, Abyssinians (1983), is Tabor’s fourth solo album, and seems to contain a blend of folk songs from different regions and times in history. I’m pretty excited to give this album a listen, so with that said, I’m going to jump on into the music.
“The Month of January” begins with some really sweet tenor vocals from Tabor as she sings what sounds to be a mystifying British folk tune. I’m really digging this song so far. Tabor’s vocals almost seem to glide along in a manner that nearly sounds auto-tuned while retaining a very human feel. Oh wow, a low, distant cello gradually plays some lines that add a bit of movement to the soundscape. Oh wow, Tabor’s vocals stop and all that’s left are what sound to be some really sweet, deep lines from a cello, and what nearly seems to be a synth or keyboard sound of some sort as the tune fades away. Great track, and I’m excited to hear more.
“The Scarecrow” starts out with some folksy acoustic guitar playing some melancholic lines, which are backed up by what sounds to be a twinkling synthesizer. Oh wow, some cello enters the soundscape and adds even more movement to the soundscape. The soundscape almost feels like some combination of Bert Jansch and Nick Drake. I really dig the way Tabor’s vocals intensify and deepen alongside the acoustic guitar and the cello during the chorus. Great tune.
“One Night As I Lay On My bed” starts out with Tabor’s solo vocals with a really sweet reverberation, making it sound as though she’s solemnly singing alone inside an empty gothic church. Oh wow, I really dig the way Tabor’s vocals seemingly glide and bounce towards peaks before gradually resolving back to deeper notes. Great track.
“She Moves Among Men (The Bar Maid’s Song)” starts out with some sweet, solemn piano notes that are soon joined by Tabor’s vocals. The tone of this song reminds me of the Tom Waits album that I listened to last night, Closing Time (1973). Holy smokes, I really dig the piano work in this song, which move alongside the vocals really nicely. Holy smokes, the vocals drop away and the piano seemingly takes a solo with some sweet, almost bluesy folk flavors that I really dig. Super sweet track.
“Lay This Body Down” begins with some sweet solo vocals from Tabor, which seem to carry a great deal of weight. The song is originally a Civil War-era spiritual according to a review on AllMusic.com. The melancholic melody reminds me a lot of the traditional American folk tune, “O Death”. Oh wow, the reverb in Tabor’s vocals almost produce a sort of angelic echo of sorts. Wow, great track.
“A Smiling Shore” starts out with some almost optimistic vocals from Tabor, which are backed up by some sweet piano. Oh wow, the cello adds a really nice feeling of movement in the backdrop of the soundscape. According to the same reviewer as earlier on AllMusic.com, this song is a story from a Holocaust survivor. Super sweet tune.
“The Bonny Boy” starts out with sweet, a-cappella vocals from Tabor as she sings what sounds to be a sweet British folk melody. Oh wow, there’s a ton of feeling in Tabor’s vocal performance as her vocals seem to traverse the hills of an English countryside. Wow, great track.
“I Never Thought My Love Would Leave Me” starts out with some really sweet, almost melancholic acoustic folk guitar that sets a tone reminiscent of late 1960s folk artists from both America and the UK. Oh wow, I’m almost reminded a bit of Judee Sill with the sweet progression of the acoustic guitar work and Tabor’s vocals. Oh wow, there are some really sweet folksy licks from the acoustic guitar as the track seems to enter the outro. Wow, super sweet track.
“The Bonny Hind” starts with Tabor’s sweet a-cappella vocals singing what sounds to be another traditional British folk tune. The melody reminds me a lot of what you might hear in both the guitar and vocals in Bert Jansch’s solo work. The reverberation on Tabor’s vocals almost makes it sound as though she’s singing as she walks between to large cliffs, with blue sky and trees above and a rarely walked path ahead of her. Super sweet track.
“The Fiddle and the Drum” starts out with what sounds to be a super smooth continuation from the previous track with Tabor’s a-cappella vocals. I really dig this rendition of this song, which was originally by Joni Mitchell. Oh wow, some really sweet orchestral strings come into the soundscape and create some nice movement behind Tabor’s vocals. Super sweet tune, and a super sweet way to finish the album.
I’m really glad that I checked out this album by June Tabor tonight. Tabor’s vocals do indeed remind me a bit of Anne Briggs, particularly during the a-cappella sections, and the accompanying folksy instrumentation throughout really served the songs really nicely. The album sort of reminded me of an Anne Briggs-like interpretation of a mixture of Bert Jansch and Nick Drake, which I really enjoyed. If you’re into British folk music at all, particularly a-cappella and/or sparse instrumentation, then you might want to consider checking out this album. If you do decide to give this album a listen, then I sincerely do hope that you enjoy the listening experience at least as much as I did.