Arguably June Tabor's most stripped-down and somber album, 1981's ABYSSINIANS is so low-key that even those songs that have minimal instrumental backing sound almost like Tabor is singing them unaccompanied. "The Scarecrow," with its almost subliminal guitar and cello arrangement, is one of Tabor's finest and saddest performances. The rest of the album is nearly as dark, with the overall tone ranging from hopeful melancholy to the absolutely bleak despair of "She Moves Among Men (The Barmaid's Song)." One gets the idea that the album's title has less to do with cats, despite the cartoony cover drawing, and more to do with the concepts of "abyss" and "sin." ABYSSINIANS is as bleak as Joy Division's CLOSER or the darkest hours of hardcore country music, and like those albums, there's a cathartic spirit to this album that makes it ultimately a satisfying listening experience.