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JOHN KIRKPATRICK "One Man & His Box" MW Records MWCD4024

Can there by anyone who dislikes John Kirkpatrick either on a human or musical level? His is a seminal talent expressed in an almost modest user-friendly fashion that finds him equally at home in your local 80-seater Folk Club or mainstage at Cambridge. It's this relaxed accessibility that you'll discover on his new recording where John sounds more comfortably on disc than I've hear him in literally years.

It's as he says in his introductory notes "a straight recital of my normal repertoire which would reflect what you'd hear at a live performance". As such it's a first - no trios, no band format, an absence of imported choirs, a lack of "and friends" and immediately enthralling, it blossoms with every play. JK's instruments are of course, button accordion, anglo concertina and single row melodeon. the songs are mainly traditional this time out with push 'n' pull accompaniment such as "Do Me Ama" and "Young Edwin". A few of the instrumentals gulp, almost a generation ago - "Once I Loved A Maiden Fair"/"Hole in the Wall" so full marks for continuity! John is fervid about the "Englishness" of his approach so that whilst there's a nod to Davie Stewart amongst others, a good 90% here is of that origin. Harry Cox and Percy Ling for example, are name-checked for "Here's Adieu to Old England" and "Underneath Your Apron" respectively.

Essentially this release has a glorious enthusiasm delivered with elan and conviction, and Folk music rarely comes more satisfying. Sometimes simpler really is better.

Clive Pownceby

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