The Topic label's two-disc Ewan MacColl
compilation Ballads: Murder Intrigue Love Discord
(the title pretty much sums it up) features 29 dark, traditional folk songs culled from sessions done in 1956. A master storyteller, MacColl
goes it alone on all of these cuts, proving once again that unlike many of his contemporaries at the time, his magnificently expressive voice requires no musical accompaniment to enhance the song’s subject matter. Topic has done a nice job at spacing out these MacColl
collections throughout the years, as each one is lovingly restored and brimming with extensive notes (as in a massive, 64-page booklet). While the sparseness of the material may put off some listeners, Ballads: Murder Intrigue Love Discord
is still required listening for anybody with even the slightest interest in the heady, U.K. oral tradition.