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ROY WILCOCK & BRIDGET GUEST "Farewell Kiss" Kitchen Table Music KTCD1

This duo originally based in West Yorkshire now with a Kendal home has a sound built around both voices, and Bridget's guitar. They have two previous tapes to their credit and this third, CD offering is augmented by Nigel Drayton on harmony vox and the 'Central Studios posse' of Chris While, Julie Matthews and Howard Lees plus Chris Leslie's fiddle.

It's a well-balanced set encompassing nods in the direction of New Country and harmony/ies with Bridget's autobiographical songs well to the fore although they have enough nous to cover writers such as Pete Bond, and Ewan Carruthers among others. The 'own' material draws inspiration from family and relationships and whilst shamelessly sentimental, mostly they avoid being mawkish. There's a sense throughout this disc of a love and enthusiasm for family life.

Fortunately although lightweight the songs aren't aural wallpaper, and the material rises above banal predictability to engage the grey matter, although "The Room Down the Hall" teeters on the brink of over-the-top romanticism!

"The Light" written by Emmylou Harris and Kieran Kane is compulsively catchy, and indeed all their covers are well-chosen with MacColl's "Joy of Living" and Pete Bond's "Joe Peel" the icing on the cake. The harmony singing is excellent throughout and whilst overall the album doesn't exactly excite, neither does it remotely offend. No envelopes are being pushed here. There are no tales of crumbling love, no dark anger but the lack of fire doesn't mean an absence of imagination. Repeated listenings confirm by and large the quality on offer. OK - it's a collection that wears its heart on its sleeve but it should cause Wilcock and Guest to be held in higher esteem.

Clive Pownceby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 23 of The Living Tradition magazine.