In an age where Kindles are replacing printed books, going to the cinema is no longer the event that it used to be, and music downloads have pretty much rendered CD’s extinct, it’s reassuring to know that performers like Sarah Mooney are keeping the timeless tradition of oral storytelling alive and well. Of course, there’s nothing quite like being in the audience when the storyteller weaves their magic – storytelling is, at its heart, a communal experience – but, for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be there, Sarah’s new CD is an enchanting alternative.
Stories of Earth & Magic is subtitled Tales to Stir the Soul – for all Ages and, for the most part, Sarah and composer Jerome O’Connell (who provides some wonderful incidental music) manage to do exactly that. Don’t be put off by the first track “Welcome In” which, with its constant repetition of ‘Welcome to Earth’, sounds very much like the opening to an episode of Teletubbies, because the four stories that follow it – “Tam Lin”, “The Wolf and the Pear Tree”, “The Girl Who Said No” and “Embroidered Dreams” – are tales that are suitable for young and old alike. Sarah has a fantastic voice and a gentle, fluid style that makes this perfect bedtime listening, and when she plays the many different characters her transitions are effortless (the grandpa in “The Wolf and the Pear Tree” is particularly good). It’s also lovely to see that Sarah has dusted off stories that many of us may not have heard before, with the possible exception of “Tam Lin” (which, apropos of nothing, was the subject of a fantastic 1970 movie directed by Roddy McDowall that’s well worth tracking down) and she even manages to give Tam an unexpected spin.
If you’ve got young kids, they’re going to eat this up with a spoon. Even if you’re old and crusty (like this reviewer) or somewhere in-between, and still have a love for the ritual of storytelling, you’ll enjoy this audiobook immensely. Stories of Earth & Magic is comfort food for the soul, and who could ask for more than that?
STORIES OF EARTH & MAGIC / STORYTELLER: SARAH MOONEY / MUSIC BY: JEROME O’CONNELL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW