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SERIOUS SAM BARRETT - Where The White Roses Grow 

SERIOUS SAM BARRETT - Where The White Roses Grow 
Ya Dig? Records YD007 

This apparently is Serious Sam’s ninth album. He will have to excuse me, as I have missed his previous eight: but that won’t affect the positivity or otherwise of this review. In my defence, he has been largely living and performing since the release of his 2009 debut album, Close To Home, in the USA. But now I have no excuse for my ignorance, as he has returned to live in his native Yorkshire: the White Rose county. And this explains the album’s title: though not everything here is Yorkshire, as, for instance, he goes Geordie for The Waters Of Tyne. It is one of three traditional songs added to his eight self-penned compositions.

I liked his own creations well enough, and they are confidently delivered, usually with him abandoning his customary 12-string guitar to venture into banjo playing to add variety to his regular musical palette. He is accompanied by fiddler Jamie Barrier on tracks 5 and 10. Sam also dives into a cappella singing a couple of times, including a perfectly respectable version of Holmfirth Anthem, learned from the singing of The Watersons. His voice is a pleasant light baritone.

And it was another traditional number that was my standout track: one of the Child ballads (139), Robin Hood And The 15 Foresters. A “White Rose song?” I hear you ask. Well yes, according to some historians: they say Robin was a Yorkshireman, and reject all claims from Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire that his birthplace was within their territory.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 128 of The Living Tradition magazine.