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Marry Waterson and Oliver Knight – The Days That Shaped Me

Lisa Bentley


The long awaited debut album from Marry Waterson and Oliver Knight is released later this month.  An album 3 years and a lifetime in the making, The Days That Shaped Me is the latest release in a line up of albums from the folk favourite family. Steeped in rich musical heritage it is impossible not to mention the family links to The Watersons.  Lal Waterson, singer with the group was Waterson and Knight’s mother (who sadly passed away in 1998); the band also compromised various other family members throughout the years and is a band whose legacy within the folk genre is still impressive and veritable today.

When, in 2007, an appearance of The Watersons at the Royal Albert Hall pitted Marry in lead vocals on one of her mother’s most notable songs, anticipation and hope over a new release by the latest generation grew.

With bare and stark instrumentation – a strong similarity to familial tradition – Waterson and Knight have released a back to basics album.  The Days That Shaped Me feels undistorted by overproducing and has an undesigning honesty felt heavily in the power of Waterson’s vocal delivery and the lyrical content.  With a little help from family and friends (most notably Eliza Carthy – cousin to Knight and Waterson) the album sits both comfortably and with seeming effortlessness in folk music expectations and convention.

The songs themselves have been described by Waterson as being about ‘personal experience’ and ‘life’ – one can hardly disagree.  Curse the Day is most notable for its true to life account, tackling the uncomfortable topic of PMT.  Not necessarily a unique topic but certainly very blatant in its appearance and construct.  Windy Day and Angels Sing jump off the album with fervour and demand an extra listen, both beautiful and melodious one cannot but feel swept away by the songs which evoke a knee jerk reaction due to the impressive anecdotal imagery.

For me personally, the album had far too much fade out and not enough finality and closure to the songs.  Equally though, the album closer Secret Smile ended far too hastily and the inconsistency left me confused.  However The Days That Shaped Me is an impressive folk debut, especially when considering the pressure of the musical heritage the duo faced they have to be commended on their atmospheric and mood evoking efforts.   It is a fitting tribute to a musical family whose efforts where unceremoniously and abruptly cut short.


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