Album review: THE TRANSPORTS – A Tale of Exile and Migration

Hudson Records [Release date 12.01.18]

The Transports tells the tale of a family destroyed by poverty and crime, but resurrected by exile to Australia in the 1780s. The songs were originally penned by Peter Bellamy and have now been given modern overhaul  against the modern context of mass migration. It is  based on the true story of convicts Henry Kable and Susannah Holmes.

The original Transports folk opera was released back in 1977 and featured folk stalwarts such as Dave Swarbrick, June Tabor, martin Carthy and the Watersons. For the modern retelling modern folk stars such as Nancy Kerr (Folk Singer of the year 2015), Greg Russell, the Young’Uns, Faustus and various ex-Bellowhead members feature in the live show, from which this album was recorded. It is arranged by Paul Sartin (Faustus/ex-Bellowhead) and features Matthew Crampton as the narrator, a key role in linking these songs together, and whose clear and warm narrative style adds greatly to the overall enjoyment of the show.

Highlights include Racheal McShane (ex-Bellowhead) on ‘I Once Lived in Service’, Nancy Kerr on the emotionally charged ‘The Leaves in the Woodland’ and Greg Russell on the jaunty ‘The Humane Turnkey 2′.

The Transports gained rave reviews on its original release and this modern adaptation is winning similar plaudits, and well deserved as it is an enthralling and absorbing piece of folk music. The show tours again in January and live has to be a ‘must see’ show. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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