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HANS THEESINK - "Lifeline" - CDBG-9020

I remember seeing Hans Theesink some years ago and that occasion leaving little impression on me one way or the other. He has been around long enough however, and at a constant level of popularity to be something more than somebody who is able to "fool most of the people." etc so I sat down to re-evaluate. On the evidence of this, I am pleased to admit to the ownership of cloth ears in the past, or maybe he's got better - who knows (who cares even?) as this is a fine varied and highly entertaining album from opening belter "Soul on Fire" to the closing instrumental "Blue Seagull" with its eclectic brew of influences which contain blues, Hawaiian and soft rock.

"Soul on Fire" is perhaps the best example on the album of his very appropriate use of guests. Unlike some albums which add names for the sake of, well, adding names, everybody on this brings lots to the party. Hans plays four different instruments on this track alone, combining his talents with musicians and singers from a range of different continents; Asian and African sensibilities nestling alongside the use of Eoin Duignan's Uillean pipes to great effect.

On other tracks are the Holmes Brothers, Insingizi Emmyama from Zimbabwe and Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir. There are more guests but I'll have to restrict myself and mention just the last named because Hans' description of their abilities e.g. beautiful blend of vocals" etc., for once is not hyperbole. If they were sharing an album with someone of the stature of Paul Simon they'd be household names in their own right.

I liked Hans' own compositions from the Lovin' Spoonfulish "Lovin Man" to "Going Home" whose beat had traces of Elias McDaniels in there and the versions of Gary Davis and (particularly) Blind Willie Johnson songs were sound. A final word - the production values are extremely high, which combined with the open-minded inclusion of the music of other cultures all assist in making music which is often regarded as of minority interest much more accessible.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.