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The John Wright Band "Language of the Heart" Greentrax - CDTRAX 201

If somebody were to initiate a 'Folk Olympics', I would expect this band to take top spot on the podium for several categories - including Scottish contemporary song interpretation, audience emotion-lifting and instrumental understatement in particular - with an individual 'all rounder' award for John Wright's vocals. But there are no such awards - and being folkies we'd probably want to share our plaudits too evenly to single out particular artistes - we're a democratic bunch. This album, though, is a tour-de-force from a trio who have a cohesive chemistry, and who have finally come of age. Mike Silver's production has teased every available essence of emotion from the vocals, and the instrumental arrangements are handled with crushed velvet mittens. I've heard many covers of Robin Laing songs, but the version of Black Clothes on this album is probably one of the most tasteful yet recorded. Other highlights for me are a beautifully gently rocking version of the Chris While/Ashley Hutchings song 'We Lie', and Mike Silver's classic 'Time for Leaving'. I shudder to estimate how long it took to lay the vocals down - because they are splendid throughout and obviously performed with care and love - although at times they drip with saccharine (more Canderel than Catatonia) but don't worry, even I can accept the candy with the raw meat in this bitter-sweet experience. It gets my gold gong of the year thus far anyway.

GREM DEVLIN

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This album was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Living Tradition magazine.