For Love Is Lord Of All
Gef Lucena (vocals, bouzouki, mandolin, autoharp, flageolet, recorder)
rec. 2013-15, The Barton, Inglestone Common
Full texts provided
SAYDISC CDSDL 439 [67:57 + 66:57]

Without fuss, fanfare, or flourish Gef Lucena – hero of Saydisc – issues his first solo album. Lucena’s company celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2015 and these solo recordings – and they really are solo, as it was just Lucena all the way with a little help from his instruments and a few overdubs – has made available this 2CD sequence of songs recorded in a period between 2013 and 2015.

He plays bouzouki most prominently, but also mandolin, autoharp, recorder and flageolet. There are thirty-six songs, mostly drawn for the traditional British repertoire as one would expect of a predominantly folk-based label, but there are also some classical settings - such as Schubert’s Am Meer that add variety to the programme.

He has a yen for the poet Edward Thomas in the same way that Johnny Coppin likes to set Ivor Gurney and the Gloucestershire poets. Lucena’s settings are respectful and full of feeling but he is equally successful and indeed a shade more evocative in the traditional Sephardic La Rose Enflorece with overdubbed bouzouki and mandolin accompaniment. That old Giordani standby Caro Mio Ben is co-opted to the traditional folkloric strain here but he makes something personal of Gerald Finzi’s setting of Come Away Death, not least by singing it unaccompanied. But he is also aware of the latest songs, as he shows in his performance of James MacMillan’s setting of William Soutar’s The Tryst where the replacement of MacMillan’s piano by the bouzouki works very adeptly.

Lucena takes care to sing popular pieces beloved of old, such as My Lagan Love, as well as rarer things such as the setting from the Song of Songs to the tune composed by Sarah Levy Tanai. Distribution of sources from the British Isles is generous. His weathered voice takes on The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face in a no-nonsense, robust and unsentimental way. His approach to Is My Team Ploughing? from George Butterworth’s setting is rustic but sparing of the ‘dead voice’.

Since 1965 Lucena has been masterminding Saydisc’s select recordings, a half-century of single-minded dedication. This twofer reflects the breadth of his interests and musical enthusiasms and loves.

Jonathan Woolf
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Track listing
CD 1
1 Catch Me If You Can [4.17]
2 False Truelove [3.32]
3 La Rose Enflorece [2.55]
4 The Lea Rig [3.10]
5 As the Clouds That Are So Light [3.56]
6 Scarborough Fair [3.37]
7 Caro Mio Ben [3.18]
8 1846 medley [4.39]
9 The Bonnie Irish Maid [3.55]
10 The True Lover [4.03]
11 Wind That Shakes the Barley [4.47]
12 Come Away Death [2.37]
13 Lass Of Glenshee [5.25]
14 The Tryst [3.25]
15 Ramblin' Gambler [2.52]
16 Phantom Suns (Die Nebensonnen) [2.07]
17 Unquiet Grave [4.57]
18 And You Helen [3.47]
CD 2
1 My Lagan Love [2.50]
2 My Dearest Dear [4.25]
3 El Ginat Egoz [2.51]
4 Night Visiting Song [3.31]
5 Willie's Fatal Visit [4.59]
6 Now O Now I Needs Must Part [3.24]
7 Brigg Fair [2.47]
8 Turtle Dove [3.14]
9 Nancy's Fancy medley [3.52]
10 I Courted A Young Girl [4.03]
11 First Time Ever I Saw Your Face [2.43]
12 Annan Waters [4.36]
13 Lover's Ghost [4.26]
14 By The Sea (Am Meer) [1.25]
15 Bonnie May [4.20]
16 Is My Team Ploughing [3.21]
17 Just As the Tide Was Flowing [4.22]
18 The Streams Of Lovely Nancy [3.56]