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BOB FOX "Borrowed Moments" TOPIC RECORDS TSCD544

Those who know Bob Fox's singing well will know this is bound to be good; the man is an accomplished musician whose singing and playing have been praised many times by better people than me. He's done a lot of different things and worked with a lot of different people, though, so it's worth trying to describe the style of this latest CD for established fans as well as for those who may not know him so well.

Eleven tracks, average 5.18mins. per track; four tracks are trad. arr. Fox, plus Ewan McColl's 'Shoals of Herring', which is as near trad. These days as makes no difference. The rest from a range of contempory songwriters, some well known, and some I hadn't come across before. Every one of these songs is a gem. In fact, there isn't a duff track on the CD. Which makes eleven tracks damn good value for money in my reckoning. If I must choose the discovery of the album for me, it would be 'The Last of the Widows' (by Jez Lowe). Unashamedly sentimental - what's come over me? But I defy anyone with a soul refined by the traditional stories of Trimdon and Gresford et al. to listen with dry eyes. Similarly, the modern disaster of Piper Alpha has fitting tribute in 'She Waits And Weeps' (Vin Garbutt).

Bob Fox has the knack of making me hear every word he sings. Songs I already thought I knew - Steve Tilson's 'Life is Not Kind To The Drinking Man' - I seemed to be hearing for the first time. A storyteller of a singer; often speaking the words so that it's easy to overlook just how consummate is his mastery of pitch and tone and rhythm and the whole business of singing. It just seems so easy, effortless. There's a lifetime of singing and playing and listening and thinking about the music behind that simplicity. Keywords for this album: Mellow, Reflective, Mature. Of the traditional material, two are classic adult-to-child songs 'Dance to your Daddy' and 'Bonny at Morn', while the album takes it's name from a line in the contemporary 'Child of Mine' - I sense a theme here.

Unobtrusive and excellent background arrangements, courtesy of six superb instrumentalists (no room here to name them all, get the CD and read for yourself) as well as Bob's own playing. In the sleeve notes, Bob says the material here was chosen to be as representative as possible of his live sets. Memo: must get to see him live again. Soon.

Corinne Male

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.