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CHRIS MANNERS - Exit Pursued By A Bear 

CHRIS MANNERS - Exit Pursued By A Bear 
99 Years Music 99YRCD03 

This is the third album from singer, songwriter and guitarist Chris, who has been writing and performing his distinctive style of folk songs for many years now. A resident of Ryburn 3 Step in Ripponden, his songs are exactly the sort of fare you would expect to hear at a good English folk club – interesting tunes, accessible lyrics, catchy choruses and refrains, with a good variation in material, including plenty of fun – in short, everything you might need for a good night out (remember those?!).

The album starts strongly with Not Half So Cruel As Rose, an upbeat seafaring song full of double entendre and naughtiness. There are other humorous tracks, including 50 Shades Of White with its lists of possibilities when it comes to choosing that perfect hue for painting. There are love songs (although one sees the protagonist being compared to a mountain rescue dog full of fleas!) There are poignant songs, like On Fathers’ Day, which is based on his own grandfather’s experience of life after spending his early years in a workhouse, or Lantern And The Moon, written from the perspective of Napoleon when he was exiled on Elba, tinged with sadness. By far the strongest song to my ears is England’s Last Apprentice, which paints a lovely picture of a bygone era, inspired by a pile of old hand tools on a pub wall. Chris sings and plays this exceptionally well, and I can imagine others picking this song up and singing it themselves.

Throughout, Chris plays solid and tasteful guitar (though there are places where the style varies considerably, and for which he apologises – blame Ray Davies!). He is supported with a bit of fiddle and accordion by Jon Loomes (who also recorded the album), and by his Clogiron bandmate Tim Blythe on other fretted strings in places. Deceivingly perceptive and full of wit and warmth, there’s a lot to like here.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine