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KATIE KIRK & RICK WILLIAMS - Katie Kirk & Rick Williams 

KATIE KIRK & RICK WILLIAMS - Katie Kirk & Rick Williams 
Private Label KKRW001CD 

Hailing from Mounts Bay, West Cornwall, singer Katie and guitarist/singer Rick are a treasured presence on the Cornish folk scene. Their musical teaming is alchemy of the most captivating kind, and their high degree of artistic accomplishment is reflected in the impeccable nature of their performance of songs from the folk tradition and modern poetic settings. Their music-making is quietly compelling, understated in exactly the right way. Exquisite but not precious, each individual interpretation is naturally jewel-like, and yet precisely sculpted; thoughtful and reflective, with its own special brand of dynamism. Encountering Katie and Rick is somewhat akin to the impact one might have felt from an old-style folk club act who, though maybe quite plain (in the sense of WYSIWYG) in their actual presentation, put their songs across intimately and powerfully with that subtly evangelical sense of discovery and mutual inspiration, treating both their sources and their listeners with abundant respect.

There’s also a frisson of ‘tip-of-the-iceberg’ about Katie and Rick’s choice of material, comparatively little of which is all that well known. Thus their concise liner notes furnish clear-sighted mini-commentaries on their sources, which include the poets Charles Causley and Cicely Fox Smith, some of whose works Rick has set to music here. A gently exploratory response to nature and concern for the rural environment form a recurring theme, although the early Martin Stephenson song, Rain, and Leon Rosselson’s setting of Joy Masefield’s tender Cobweb Of Dreams also suit Katie and Rick’s mindset and approach. Rick’s own settings can have something of an early-music-meets-folk feel too (e.g. the charming, magical The Wisp), which is accentuated by his intricate, filigree pointed guitar work (he also delivers a delicious instrumental take on Sweet Nightingale). There are also two fine a cappella tracks: a gorgeous two-part harmony arrangement of Cornish male-choir favourite, Calm Is The Sea, and an artful small-group arrangement (with friends The Boilerhouse Singers) of The Willow Glen.

OK, you’ll have gathered that I like Katie and Rick’s album rather a lot. As I strongly suspect you also will…

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 137 of The Living Tradition magazine