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PAVLOV’S CAT - At The Races

PAVLOV’S CAT - At The Races
AcoustiCity  ACCD104

This is the first studio album for seven years from this London/Cambridge based collective that has been producing acoustic music since 1999. Largely, it appears, as a vehicle for the singing and songwriting talents of James Hibbins. He gets admirable support here from band members Bernard Hoskin (various stringed instruments) and David Booth (keyboards and percussion) as well as guest Nick Anderson on electric bass.

Fortunately, Hoskin sings with such passion that - along with the liberties he takes with his rearrangements - he makes the traditional songs sound fresh and vibrant, and the contemporary songs (his own) seem as if they’ve been around for ages.  I do like the audacity of reworking one of Bob Dylan’s reworkings, as Hibbins does here on North County Town  (ie Girl From The North Country), not to mention the Copper Family/John Martyn  (although he missed a trick by not calling it Spencer the Raver). With the latter, he remarks in the sleeve notes that he thought Spencer needed more reasons to go off and to return, so he throws in bits and pieces that refer to politics and banking. But it works.
He has a very engaging voice, and the album really grows on you over repeated listenings.

The live approach to the album works well and isn’t compromised by the over-dubbed a cappella final track - a nice reading of The Parting Glass. A pleasant end to an enjoyable album.

Graham Gurrin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.