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PETE MORTON "Trespass" Harbourtown HARCD037

In the ten or fifteen years that Pete Morton has been on the scene he has achieved what is possibly the only true measure of success we have to offer a singer/songwriter apart from trying to pay his bills - he has achieved our respect. After playing the lead male in The Transports, making a couple of left-field albums with his scally mates, and seeing records of his own songs being justifiably acclaimed, what's left? You've got it in one - the Difficult Traditional Album.

The thirteen tracks of "Trespass" range from the hackneyed (Farmer's Boy, Lincolnshire Poacher) through the venerable (Banks of the Nile, Little Musgrave, John Barleycorn) to the obscure reworking (Gay Goshawk), and all but an unaccompanied Sylvia feature his exceptional singing backed by his exceptional guitar playing. There are no frills, no trickery and no places to hide, but he has become such a master of his trade that none are required (though I would've liked slightly less minimalist insert notes).

One of traditional song's basic tenets is to tell stories, and as Pete has shown in the past with his own songs, he is storyteller supreme. The relish with which he unfolds these tales is in danger of spilling out of the speakers and onto the carpet while his haunting, mesmeric guitar style provides the perfect backdrop. There is life abundant in even the Lincolnshire Poacher's old dog, and with "Trespass", Pete Morton shows us that England's traditional song has big legs and in the right conditions will run and run.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 32 of The Living Tradition magazine.