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ANDY SHANKS & JIM RUSSELL "Diamonds in the Night" Culburnie CUL112D

No point in beating about the bush. This album is a wee gem. The songs have atmosphere, pathos, catchy melodies, memorable lyrics and, often, a message that prompts an immediate repeated listen - if only to confirm that somebody had the courage to pin their emotions to the mast so blatantly. The instrumentation is never overstated but cleverly woven in and out of the poetry subtly and tastefully. More than anything else I'm struck by the naked honesty of these two guys. Every song tells a story and the musical arrangements never fail to hit the spot. Alright, if you insist on some constructive criticism, the whole album concentrates the attention so much that it is impossible to devote any attention to anything else at the same time. Now, if they could assemble these musicians together on stage, that would be some gig! Definitely my 'Album of the Year' so far (and on current form I don't expect it to be overtaken by anything else). Give your head and heart a tonic and buy this album. Now, how do we set up a supergig?

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 22 of The Living Tradition magazine.