The Owl Service & Harriet Bradshaw – The Tinker of Rye

Now this song was one of the ones that I had to think hard about. The lyrics for this one seem to be original, while the concept – a tale of a tinker full of innuendo, isn’t (see the Jolly Tinker for instance, though there are some versions of that that ditch the innuendo for actual filth)

The trouble with this one is it seems to have been made specifically for Lee’s baritone and also light opera is not as malleable as folk music. I needed an artist with both an empathy for the material and a proven track record of doing interesting cover versions.

It seemed like The Owl Service were needed. After all, it wouldn’t even be their first tangle with the Wicker Man.

But what really swung it for me was hearing this recent and brilliantly inventive version of the old folk song “She Moved Through The Fair”.

The word came back, I had the Owl Service but it would be a collaboration with new singer-songwriter Harriet Bradshaw. I went and checked her Bandcamp and the feeling was very, very right.

So, while I knew this was a track that probably nobody would want to try and tackle, at the same time I knew it was in a safe pair of hands. The results are, of course, radically different and yet also actually very intuitive and a natural evolution of the song. I’d worried that this was the mission impossible but the crack team from Leigh On Sea took care of it.

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