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Muddy Banks
Private Label  NKM003

In his native Lincolnshire, Liam’s a well-known and respected singer and musician and calls with his own Dance Band; an enthusiastic ambassador for his county’s music and song, he’s taken this repertoire around the world as well as across the UK.  This disc, his full-length debut recording, is subtitled Traditional Songs From Lincolnshire And The East Coast; and yet (and yes, I’m being pedantic here) it kicks off with Bob Roberts’ Humber Belle and concludes with William Delf’s Three Score And Ten. But between those bookends all is safe and well and sourced from the tradition, and you can’t fail to be charmed by Liam’s fresh and genially invigorating renditions of a selection of songs and tunes that mostly take their thematic cue from Lincolnshire’s coast.

These primarily feature Liam’s proven talents on melodeon, concertina and bouzouki, with further instrumental assistance from Nils Koster on guitar, bass, piano, violin and whistle and occasional backing vocals from Nils and Tjikkie Van Houten. In his lustier moments, Liam shares a certain audible kinship with Brian Peters (I hear this on his singing of The Herring Song in particular), and his song interpretations are always individual, keen and well considered. Old favourites, chorus songs like Candlelight Fisherman (See How The Wind Do Blow) for instance, come off with plenty of sparkle and brio, while the broadside Spurn Point and the Grainger-collected tale of Betsy Walton are both welcome and lesser-known additions to the corpus of Lincolnshire song. Liam’s treatment of Three Score And Ten at first acquaintance seems unpromising, and even queasily unsure-sounding, but its parlour-room chamber scoring and unusual twisting melody actually gains in poignancy and it won me over to the extent that I ended up much preferring it to the less subtle roof-raiser version that tends to get trotted out in most folk clubs nowadays.

The various tunes on this album are all played with gusto and a true feel for the dance; the springy rhythm of the Lincoln Hornpipe is enough to get you on your feet, and The Willow Tree is deliciously pointed. All in all, Muddy Banks is a reliably entertaining record that shows Liam at his best in a well-chosen collection of material.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 87 of The Living Tradition magazine.