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ROGER DAVIES - Songs In Plain English

ROGER DAVIES - Songs In Plain English
Private Label RD06

Roger is a Yorkshire singer-songwriter whose songs are firmly rooted in the West Riding soil from which they spring. Roger prefers a stark setting for his songs – just voice and increasingly inventive guitar accompaniment with very occasional harmonica.

Songs In Plain English is officially the follow up to 2009’s The Busker, though in the meantime there have been singles and a live album. A couple of the songs from that CD appear here in a more fully realised form – the contemplative and moving Time Goes By and The Ghost Of Lily Fogg, about the legendary spirit of an infamous Halifax character. A more realistic encounter is described in Christmas On King Street, a sort of Northern, seasonal Streets Of London – a song that will make you mind your change!

Roger has cornered the market in rhapsodising Yorkshire’s unsung heroes: on this album he immortalises Percy Shaw, the inventor of the cat’s eye. Judy Woods takes us on a musical stroll to a local beauty spot. Sleck Dust is inspired by a well named Yorkshire brew.

Those who have heard Roger’s previous albums will know this is all true to form. However, the remit of his talent is broadening. His love of performing in folk clubs, where voices join the chorus is evident in both the style and content of several songs, notably Here For You: the opening track Here’s To The Grog modifies its obvious source in a way that makes Roger seem like a one man oral tradition! I challenge anyone to hear Sleck Dust without joining the refrain.

Roger is a prolific writer. It may well be that those who have seen him in the last couple of years will discover a favourite live song has not make the final cut. He recorded 18 songs but in the end opted for the best 10 – and that is one way to ensure the consistent high quality of an album. This is a fine collection with no weak spots that doesn’t outstay its welcome, ever, and always leaves you wanting more.

Roger is almost a song-writing machine – as the last track reminds us – there’s always a song in there somewhere. Thank goodness he shares them with us.

Nigel Schofield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 93 of The Living Tradition magazine.