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DAVE GOULDER "Stone, Steam and Starlings" Harbourtown HARCD 017

TNottinghamshire-born Dave Goulder started his working life on the railways in the days of steam, moved to the North of Scotland some thirty years ago to take charge of a mountaineering hostel, and after that became a dry stone waller. All these influences are to be found in his songwriting and are represented on this CD: "Footplate Cuisine", "The Clearing Place", "Stone on Stone", and "These Dry Stone Walls".

Essentially he works on the rhythm of the music, using that as a basic framework around which he builds careful constructions with a distinctly lyrical style. His written output has not been particularly high but this recording contains eight of his compositions, and it is his own work that I think that the best of the album is to be found, specifically in two songs, "Boy in Winter" and "Seven Summers".

The first (about his son), written to suit the style of American singer Anne Dodson; the second (written for, and about, his daughter), a beautiful and gentle song, full of images of childhood and the summer of '85, and has Gordon Bok on cellamba. An absolutely excellent song. Amongst the other tracks there is the Vaughan Williams setting of "Linden Lea" with celtic harp from Carol Rohl, Thomas Hardy's "The Colours" sung unaccompanied, and an unusual setting of Yeats' "Sally Gardens" also with celtic harp.

All the material on the recording has obviously been chosen with great care, but I felt a lack of light and shade, and I would have welcomed a bit more bite. However, I feel sure that all those who know Dave Goulder's work and style, will find this CD an essential purchase.

Mel Howley

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This album was reviewed in Issue 13 of The Living Tradition magazine.