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CORDELIA'S DAD "Comet" Normal Records Normal179CD

Since their last recording, "How can I Sleep", American "Folk Rock" band Cordelia's Dad have had a change of lineup. Cath Oss on bass and vocals, taking the place of guitarist Tom King. A change of emphasis in the interpretation of the material has also come about, although old tricks have not been forgotten entirely.

Twelve of the fourteen tracks are traditional American although many of the songs are recognisable as variants of ballads or contain echoes of songs from the European side of the Atlantic. "Katy Cruel", "Gypsy Davy", "May Blooming Field", "The Sun and the Moon", "George Collins" and "Jersey City" all contain familiar lyrical resonances. The singing also borrows from the American tradition, a lonesome, pared to the bone, stylised sound with a mix of halting and sliding notes. This is used to good effect on the material Which includes unaccompanied and unison singing. The bulk of the arrangements here are acoustic and fairly sparse, although there is some warm guitar playing from Tim Eriksen, which sounds very Martin Carthy influenced, and guest musician Becky Miller's fiddle playing is an added pleasure.

The last three tracks are given over to the band's "rock" influences. The first of these, "Jersey City", fares not too badly, the overdrive and feedback of the guitars releaving the tension of the suppressed anger in the song. The other two "electric" tracks descend into a thrash, sounding a bit like that Christmas a few years ago, when next-door's kids got club-book-special guitars and drum kits.

Cordelia's Dad have been touring some parts of the UK this summer and which of their multiple group personalities has been most appreciated we don't as yet know. I would suspect, the early American traditional sounding version is the one most likely to make friends and influence people.

Peter Fairbairn

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