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GORDON TYRRALL "So I've Heard" GAHO Music GAHO2

I never expect anything less than the best from Gordon Tyrrall, either live or on record, and I have yet to be disappointed. Whereas his last CD, 'A Distance From The Town', concentrated on his settings of John Clare's poetry and produced (with exquisite harmonic assistance from Grace Notes) an introspective and considered work, 'So I've Heard' mirrors his current live set, with its dynamic guitar and flute playing and songs drawn from just about everywhere.

Recorded on his Leeds home turf by the ultra-sympathetic Rob Van Sante, it has a distinctly home-grown atmosphere from the hand-painted caricatures of the cover to the conversational insert essay, and from the admission that Granville Bowen plays both djembe and IKEA vase to the inclusion of a Mazurka called "Alan's Half-Century" which first saw the light of day in a birthday card to me last year. How can I be that old? How can Gordon be that clever?

But clever he is - as well as self-penned tunes there are two self-penned songs. "Song for Stefan Kiszko" is an impassioned cry against injustice, while "The Ballad of Sickness and Health" is a tale as spooky as the traditional "Suffolk Miracle" which opens the album. Elsewhere he tips the hat to Joseph Taylor, Pop Maynard, Phoebe Smith, Mary Ann Carolan and Richard Thompson.

But he's not just clever. Although his singing and playing display a virtuosity honed over three decades of doing just that he has never lost sight of the music and the people who provide his bread and butter. His considerable skill as a musician undoubtedly contributes to his longevity as a folk-circuit professional, but his enthusiasm, his humanity and his belief in his art contribute even more. Or so I've heard.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 39 of The Living Tradition magazine.