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SHOW OF HANDS - The Long Way Home

SHOW OF HANDS - The Long Way Home
Hands On Music HMCD39

There is not much to be said about Show Of Hands that hasn’t been said already. They are utter professionals, first class musicians and expressive and communicative singers. They know how to write a good song and execute it perfectly. Their loyal fan-base and sell out concerts are testimony to their popularity throughout the UK and beyond. So you know this is going to be another winning CD even before you take it out of its lovely packaging.

But this one is a bit different. It does portray a sense of something of a homecoming for the band, and a return to a feel that is more traditional in nature and sound – back to their roots as it were.

There are the usual observant songs from Steve, but alongside are several traditional songs and other songs by Topsham songwriter Chris Hoban, Broom Bezzum Andrew Cadie, and one from the pairing of Dick Gaughan and Brian McNeill.

Highlights are the traditional Hambledon Fair, where they are joined by the lovely voice of Jackie Oates – haunting, stripped back and beautiful. Keep Hauling is a new sea shanty from Andrew Cadie that is catchy and instantly singable. ‘Twas On One April’s Morning is given a bouncy treatment which is hard to resist. And Steve’s own, Mesopotamia (again with Jackie Oates), is a strong, emotive closer.

Though the songs cover a wide range of traditional themes, including love, war and exile, there is an unmistakably optimistic feel to the album which leaves you reaching for the ‘play it again’ button.

One of the best yet lads – good to have you home!

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 112 of The Living Tradition magazine.