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KEN NICOL - Thirteen Reasons

KEN NICOL
Thirteen Reasons
MVS CD013

Ken Nicol seems to have been around forever on the fringes of the folk-rock scene, so it is a surprise to see he only became a member of the Albion Band in 1997. Indeed, listening to some of the songs on this album there are echoes of earlier Albion work. His recent work with Steeleye Span has given him a greater prominence, so it will be interesting to see whether this will translate into success for a solo album. Certainly he provides a wide variety of songs and the occasional instrumental, all self-penned except a version of 'The Water is Wide' played on guitar as a slow air. Styles range from acoustic to soft-rock, with support from many of the top musicians in folk rock-Rick Kemp, Martin Allcock, Pete Knight on fiddle, Liam Genockey on drums, and harmonies from Maddy Prior and Chris While.

His own material covers a wide variety of styles, and it is that which must be his selling point as his voice, while pleasant and capable,is not startling. That need not be a problem, as Richard Thompson has shown, although it might be helpful if one of the 'voices' of folk takes one of his songs and runs with it. Standouts for me are 'Insobriety', a hymn to drink with a catchy chorus, 'The Liquid Petroleum Gas Song', "where he links greenness to thrift with a deal of whimsy in talking blues style, the jokey 'On Holiday in Stornaway', and 'That Could Have Been Me' where he dreams of being Tiger Woods, or Jasper Carrott, or 'a legend of rock guitar history.' Too late,.as he suggests, for that, but maybe there's still time to be a legend of folk-rock.

Bob Harragan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.