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GILL BOWMAN - "Perfect Lover" - Greentrax CDTRAX 081
GILL BOWMAN - "Toasting the Lassies" - Greentrax CDTRAX 085

Gill Bowman is a busy lady at the moment and has two new CD's to show "Perfect Lover" is a mix of her own songs and traditional material. Although none of the new songs have the initial impact that those on her debut album "City Love" had, they do grow on you once the lyrics have time to sink in. One problem is that the arrangements, tasteful and delicate, do not always reflect the power of Gill's thoughtful words. "Walking Away" and "Somebody's Baby" are strong songs and both would have benefitted from less sweetness in the backing.

Gill's voice, as ever, is warm, flexible and clear, but I sometimes think that she does not make enough use of her lower register. Her version of "Dream Angus" is loverly but a tone down and it would have been completely stunning.

"Toasting the Lassies" is the show which Gill has devised and which, to their great credit, has been taken up by the Burns International Festival. (I can dimly remember the Burns Birth Bicentenary and it was all tight stays and high pitched voices - and the women were not much better). On this Cd, even allowing for my Burns mania, Gill really comes into her own.

The songs and their settings have obviously been chosen with loving care and from the delightful hint of mischief in the opening "Green Grow the Rashes" to the gentle and reflective "Auld Lang Syne" there is scarce a blemish - and that only if you take exception to the very occasional hint of a mid-Atlantic accent.

The three Burns songs on "Perfect Lover" also turn up in different guise, on "Toasting the Lassies". "Ae Fond Kiss" is delivered with a soft sadness, and the unaccompanied "Sweet Tibbie Dunbar" coupled with "The Rantin Dug" has a marvellous edge.

Gem of the collection for me, though, is "Comin' Thro' the Rye". It isn't clear from the notes on either CD if this tune is a traditional variant or one of Gill's own making. Whatever it is, it works perfectly, I have listened to it repeatedly and, if it's OK with you Gill, it's now in my repertoire.

Sheena Wellington
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This album was reviewed in Issue 10 of The Living Tradition magazine.