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BEN PALEY - Homunculus Mellitus 

BEN PALEY - Homunculus Mellitus 
Private Label HECD008 

Over nearly three decades, Ben’s music has contributed to dozens of albums, but this is his first solo venture. There’s no doubting his proficiency as singer and musician, and the many traditions that have influenced his development are all in evidence here.

Most of the songs owe a lot to his father Tom’s influence, although the delivery is definitely mid-Atlantic. There’s also a lovely Carter Family song, The Storms Are On The Ocean, which came from his mother, Claudia Gould. All are as well sung as you’d hope for from a performer with his pedigree and experience. Morning Of 1845 intrigued me; it sounded as if it needed finishing, and reminded me strongly of Sweet Laurel Hill.

But for me, the real stars in this collection were the instrumental pieces. The variety and musicianship, seamlessly moving from Swedish to English to Irish to American and Canadian, is enough to keep you very well entertained. Ben’s contribution to Swedish music in this country is widely recognised, and he has a great talent for getting under the skin of various traditions. His polskas were particularly fine, including his own Gills Brudpolska. As a matter of interest, nearly everything on this CD – singing, all instrumental playing, production and even sleeve design – is all his own work, and of a high standard. Not much to criticise, but I did wonder why there were several tracks featuring a single tune – with a background like Ben’s, there must be loads of other tunes he could have married up to these singletons. Which is, I suppose, another way of saying that I would have liked a bit more; and that isn’t really a criticism, is it?

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine