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TIM LAYCOCK Sea Strands: Folks Songs and Tunes from Dorset

Sea Strands: Folks Songs and Tunes from Dorset

Wild Goose Records  WGS376CD

The Dorset based singer-songwriter, actor and playwright who also plays duet concertina, melodeon, harmonica and percussion (is there no end to the man’s talents?) has produced another album rich in atmosphere and with a strong sense of authenticity and tradition in its South West roots.

The opening track, Bold Granadee/Jack’s Alive, is a perfect introduction. It’s a much more plaintive and melodic rendition of the folk favourite, played with quiet confidence by Tim and accompanied by Colin Thompson on viola. In fact Tim has gathered a fine band of musicians for the album with Robin Jeffrey on guitar, laouto and mandolin, Gabriel Laycock on 12-string guitar and Colin on viola and fiddle providing sensitive and unobtrusive accompaniment to Tim’s warm concertina and melodeon.

Whilst traditional song provides the body of the album (several are taken from Robert and Henry Hammond’s collection such as the tender rendition of The Turtle Dove) dance tunes are also covered with a spirited version of Benjamin Rose’s Rickety Robin/Tipsy Bob as well as a sprightly Cider And Brandy/A Trip To Bagshot. Howevermany of the highlights come from Tim’s own hand, such as the lilting A Glimpse Of Green Land, the beautifully sad lesson of Death In The Nut (based on the Scottish traveller Duncan Williamson’s story of the same name), and the feisty slip-jig Blackbeard’s Diamond.

With the recent fashion for modernising traditional folk it’s refreshing to hear these songs played simply and sincerely - and it reminds us of just how pertinent and vital these song are. The old standard John Barleycorn, for instance, which seems to crop up regularly in any nu-folk repertoire, remains fresh and spiky in Tim’s capable hands. Sea Strands is a beautiful piece of work which brings to the fore the rich musical and lyrical tradition of Dorset. A fine album.

Billy Rough

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