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Private Label KGP03 

This CD comes from an artiste previously unknown to me. That fact though is perhaps not surprising, as Karin was in the jazz/blues field until making the move to folk only five years ago. Here she sings six of her own compositions, plus the late Alan Bell’s well known song about life as a navvy wife/widow, Alice White. They are well-performed songs, telling good stories and have memorable melodies. And they focus on the lives of the men and women who built the Settle-Carlisle Railway in the 1870s... a stretch of railway firmly in the heart of all British railway enthusiasts.

Have I any caveats? No, none really. I guess the lyrics (available on her website) could do with slightly tighter proofreading, and that the bluesy final song Hide From The Devil would have benefitted from Karin singing it in her own fine regional accent (and not her transatlantic jazz voice). I might ordinarily also mutter about a running time of just 32 minutes, but really cannot here, as this handsomely packaged CD costs just £5 (plus £2.50 p&p).

Please have no doubts: this is a serious work. As is anything that the great Mike Harding lends his name and time to: and here Mike shows his talent as a multi-instrumentalist, with banjo, mandolin, harmonica, bodhrán and spoons accompaniment. He’s joined by Allan Ideson on guitar. But both won’t mind me saying that Rebecca Clare Douglas eclipsed both of them with her violin, viola, piano and especially her charming background vocals.

Dai Woosnam


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine