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VARIOUS ARTISTS "A Season of Changes" Future Earth Records FERCD027

Now here is a surprisingly easy album to enjoy. Surprising, when it includes artists such as Jez Lowe, Kate Rusby, Roy Bailey and Jim Boyes? Well it is subtitled 'the autistic awareness album', and around half of the material on the album was produced by autistic writers. Autism is all about difficulties in communicating and relating to other people, and the album cover illustration graphically illustrates this, so you might expect a depressing experience. But no.

The nationally known artists turn in a good performance of course, mainly on tracks available elsewhere, but those who are little known beyond the Yorkshire area more than hold their own. Several of the original songs could well find their way into the repertoire of other singers. The theme of problems in relating is there, but it is played more lightly than by some mainstream singer songwriters.

The album was inspired by a poetry writing workshop for those with some degree of autism. One short poem on the album by Grace Parry succinctly outlines, in a down to earth way, her difficulties in pretending to be 'Ms Normal', but the album producers have wisely supplied most of the poems only in written form. The workshop group also sings as a chorus on three tracks which can't pretend to the professional standards of the rest of the album, but don't take away from its overall effectiveness and humanity.

About 90% of the profits go to charity, but you don't have to comfort yourself with this; there is enough good stuff here just to enjoy it.

Richard Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 29 of The Living Tradition magazine.