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GORDON TYRRALL "A Distance from the Town" Fellside FECD129

Gordon Tyrrall is one of those talented-though-modest, good egg musicians that truly comprise the backbone of 'our scene', and he has, in a career stretching over 20+ years earned the respect and admiration of fellow giggers and discriminating audiences alike. His roots are in the Leeds Irish traditional music scene via bands such as Iona and Dab Hand and prowess on flute and guitar make his a familiar name in festival, workshop and club guest lists.

This is the 6th solo album and he's chosen that favourite of pastoralists, poet John Clare as his inspiration. Others, notable George Deacon have ploughed this particular furrow previously and Clare with his affection for everyday rural life and people as an agrarian England turned to industrialisation captured a moment in time, though without any "arcadian twilight" romanticism.

Born in Northamptonshire in 1793 Clare's cultural legitimacy resides not only in his poetry but also his music (he was an enthusiastic fiddler) - both informed by the broadsides and tunes circulating around him - the typical popular airs and dance music of the day, often gleaned interestingly from Gypsy sources.

Sub-titled "A Musical Appreciation of the Work of the Poet" this CD succeeds on all levels, diverse and vital it bustles with brisk efficiency whether on instrumentals such as "The Wounded Huzzar" or songs as fresh as "Sally Green". "The Gypsey (sic) Song" is a particular favourite, weaving an urgent web of acoustic guitar against fiddles played by Geoff Bowen and Robin Shepherd. Helping out too are Brian Peters and the women of Grace Notes and whilst resolutely pushing no envelopes, Tyrrall's work here is remarkable. As gentle and unassuming as John Clare himself perhaps but nevertheless this labour of love has more up its sleeve than many a higher profile release.

Clive Pownceby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 30 of The Living Tradition magazine.