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MICHAEL RAVEN & JOAN MILLS "Recital" CDMR 70

Michael Raven is certainly an accomplished Spanish guitarist, closer to classical than the common folk styles. His partner Joan Mills sings in a calm, deliberate manner.

This CD is intended to represent one of their concerts, offering alternate songs and guitar pieces. Although the recording lacks the introductions and anecdotes about the pieces, these are included on the inlay sheet. There are traditional songs from Cecil Sharp, Ireland and early industry. There are some compositions and arrangements by Michael, including an appropriate setting of a verse by A.E. Housman, who only allowed his work to be broadcast if set to music. The tunes come from a wide variety of sources, including Elizabethan, Flamenco, Appalachia and Wales.

With just a single instrument and a lone voice, there is inevitably a rather narrow dynamic range. In addition, the numbers often share the same sedate pace. The attraction is more cerebral than physical. After a cool start, I thought that the CD grew steadily warmer. There was more feeling in the industrial ballads and the Irish songs. Murlough Shore had a fond, longing air and at the end, much to my surprise, I found myself enjoying Raglan Road, sung with far greater understanding than Irish singers usually display.

Henry Peacock

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This album was reviewed in Issue 13 of The Living Tradition magazine.