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TIM VAN EYKEN "New Boots" Appledore AMUCD01

This multi-instrumentalist and singer from Somerset was the first reserve for the final of the BBC Young Tradition Award in '93, and his main instrument is melodeon, which he plays with verve and panache. This debut album was produced by Andy Cutting and recorded by Steve Rusby at Pure so certainly no problems here with production values, you can just sit back and listen to the music.

And this is good music, both in choice of material and in style. Tim is a player in the classic mould, with a precise, crisp, rhythmic technique and a light, deft touch. Just listen to his terrific set of "The Liverpool" and "Delahunty's" hornpipes combined with "Mona's Delight" it's a pure joy. Elsewhere there is a strong French influence on both a Giles Chabenat arrangement of "Ouvrez Le Port" and "Michael Turner's Waltz"; two of his own compositions - "Breaking Digits" and "The Rose of Lisieux"; and the superb "Wim Claeys' Scottishe". Overall a plethora of really good tunes - he knows how to pick 'em as well as play 'em! This CD should carry a warning to box players - it could drive you to putting a Stanley knife through the bellows - or inspire you to try harder and practice more. Probably the latter. Van Eyken really is extremely good, and inspirational really isn't too strong.

Oh, I almost forgot - he sings as well, in fact he sings very well, with a rich expressive voice which belies his, relatively, tender years. There is a lack of pretension, with little decoration, leaving the lyrics to stand on their own, and with songs like "Twa Corbies" and "General Wolfe" this is a sensible approach. He also plays some fine whistle on "The Wild Woman of Bawdsey", with keyboard accompaniment from Colin Cotter, and elsewhere the other guest musicians are Robert Harbon on concertina, and from Spiro (the band previously known as Famous Five), Jane Harbour on violin and John Hunt on guitar.

This is a remarkable debut CD, showing a maturity of talent and taste, and promising much for the future. One of the best things I've heard in ages.

Mel Howley

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This album was reviewed in Issue 30 of The Living Tradition magazine.