June Tabor is probably the finest female traditional British folksinger of the late 20th and early 21st centuries -- if not the best British folksinger of her time, period. What links her to Britain's past traditions is the chilling and emotional qualities of her voice. What links her to the British present is her fine taste in material, arrangements, and backing musicians, along with a willingness to try different things and interpret work by contemporary songwriters.
Tabor's first high-profile project was a duet album with Steeleye Span's Maddy Prior in the 1970s (the duo dubbed themselves the Silly Sisters for the occasion). An all-star cast of some of the leading lights of the British folk scene supported the singers, including Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, and Andy Irvine. For her own albums and tours she has worked with outstanding guitarists, most notably Jones and Martin Simpson. She's also trodden into folk-rock waters with Fairport Convention (with whom she's guested on-stage) and Oysterband (with whom she collaborated on a 1990 album).
Her 1994 album Against the Streams found her still at her peak, interpreting both traditional tunes and efforts by modern-day composers, including Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson. Subsequent efforts include Singing the Storm (1996), Aleyn (1997), Quiet Eye (2000), Rosa Mundi (2001), Echo of Hooves (2003), At the Wood's Heart (2005), and Apples (2007). In 2011 Tabor released Ashore, a conceptual seafaring album that included a cover of Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding" as well as reworkings of two of her more memorable songs, "Finisterre" and "The Grey Funnel Line." Also that year, Tabor re-teamed with Oysterband for Ragged Kingdom. In 2013, Tabor collaborated with saxophonist Iain Ballamy and pianist Huw Warren for the album Quercus on ECM. ~ Richie Unterberger