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GRAHAM & EILEEN PRATT "Borders of the Ocean" Grail CD 001

The Melody Maker piece headed "PRATTS GO PRO", over 20 years ago said it all, as Graham and Eileen packed in the day jobs and headed off into the great wide open to seek fortune and fame. And they gave it a good shot too, before the pressures and uncertainties of life on the road made them retreat to Sheffield and a more secure financial base. Now with family grown up and pension plans in place (ahem!) they're back with toe-in-water appearances at festivals such as Whitby and this new collection reminds us just why we loved 'em in the first place - and why with all manner of fads having come and gone since their heyday, the Pratt experience is/was such a life-affirming one.

This compelling, genuine article of an album then heralds the start of another phase of career development but no dip in the quality control that was always a touchstone of past recorded glories on the Cottage, Dingles and Plant Life labels. Beginning densely with "Fair and Tender Ladies", a professional and polished mix of traditional material unfolds with Graham's own wry, skilful songs as per "Rumours" and the languid "Another You" to add variety. A really welcome return and whilst there are no surprises - what you get is a CD brimming with good songs, a pleasingly solid effect is created throughout with well-chosen, never hackneyed programming.

Instrumentation is Graham's guitar, concertina and keyboards in the main, but it's Eileen's voice that once heard, remains in the mind forever. One of England's finest, measured and subtle - and simply one of the Country's great natural assets! Contained here are definitive readings of "Dark Fairy Rath" and "Broomfield Hill" but I'd consider it pointless to single out songs for specific praise from this enjoyable and listenable outing - frankly it's all glorious. Coming around again indeed - this one noses ahead of the pack.

Clive Pownceby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.