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Alan Bell "In My Homeland" Dragon Records DRGNCD991

The cover photo shows Alan Bell looking every inch a 'sand bred un' on the Fleetwood shore. It's a very appropriate picture, for the man is so strongly identified with the Fylde coast in particular, and the North-West in general, that it's hard to think of one without the other. Through his writing he has given the area so many chances to celebrate itself in song. Nevertheless there is no feeling of parochialism about his output. The range of emotions and situations he writes about apply to people everywhere.

Several of his songs derive from the memories and experiences of real people - Jack McCaig, driver, in 'The Wagon Driving Man', veterans of the Fylde Mountaineering Club in 'The Golden Rule', ex-servicemen in 'There Was A Day' and, most poignantly, Len and Barbara Berry, known to the folk scene as The Portway Pedlars. Len and Barbara are the inspiration behind 'The Song Of Time', a tribute to long-lasting ever-growing love that caused me to breathe deeply and ponder on my own life. It's an old-fashioned sentimental tear-jerker of the kind that Arthur Tracy and Cavan O'Connor would have sung years ago, and bravo to that.

Add a couple of songs dealing with the seafarer's life and the fishing industry, and the closing track 'In My Homeland' and you have an album that seems to me to express much of the writer's attitude to life. He does not offer us startling psychological insights, neither does he preach to us. He speaks in simple language of things that seem simple on the surface but will resonate with listeners everywhere. Good work.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 35 of The Living Tradition magazine.