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Hands on Music HMCD23

Another tour de force by Show of Hands, the irrepressible Steve Knightley and Phil Beer, here supported by an impressive selection of backing singers and musicians, who combine to produce an album which is darkly satisfying.

Show of Hands follow a path that many have taken, in that they try to articulate a sense of modern England, yet they see on this path not a pastoral idyll, but a land of tension and concern over what this very sense is. Here we have songs which, amongst other things warn us about religious fundamentalists; tell us about hopes of emigration shattered by the results of petty crime; examine family relationships; dwell on lost opportunities. Yet this is not a depressing album - far from it. Giving a voice to the under-represented is an act of enlightenment.

Even the search for identity has produced its own song " Roots" , which questions a lot about cultural values, leaving the listener to infer the answers.

All of this is done with the trademark Show of Hands impeccable musicianship, which balances the delivery with the content throughout. Add to this the liner notes which have all the lyrics, and the whole production is a thoughtful and thought-provoking success.

A first-class release.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 69 of The Living Tradition magazine.