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ALLAN JOHNSTON - "Voice Call"- Smiddymade Recordings SMD 616

Allan Johnston has been a much appreciated stalwart of the Edinburgh folk scene for nearly thirty years and it's good to see him follow up his 1989 album "North of the Border" with this one.

He's written and arranged all 14 tracks on this album and enlisted some excellent support from Aidan O'Rourke on fiddle, Leo McCann on button box accordion, Martin McHugh on bodhran, Noel Rocks on banjo, Michael Gill on viola and Iain Baird on jug.

Allan's voice and accomplished guitar playing have graced the ranks of several bands since his introduction to folk music through the Ayr Folk Club in the late sixties and he's got to the stage of his career now where he's decided to concentrate full-time on songwriting and music. With his father coming from Coleraine in County Derry there are obvious Irish influences on his work and on this album you'll find "Song for Christy", telling of seeing the great man in concert while "The Ghosts of Columbkille" and "Where Wild Roses Grow" are more lyrical descriptions of Donegal and Antrim with "Wash My Blues Away" doing similar for Scotland.

It's reassuring to see, too, that the art of the protest song hasn't died out and "Song for Tony Blair" poses some very pertinent questions about the progress of New Labour's election promises. "VoiceCall" is released on Birnam-based Smiddymade Recordings and if I say it's an old fashioned album, that's not a criticism but a reflection of the true singer/songwriter genre to which Allan genuinely belongs.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.