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Here And Now
Fat Cat FATCD016

Separately Chris While and Julie Matthews are currently in high demand. Julie wrote ten songs for the critically acclaimed Radio Ballads, whilst Chris took Sandy Denny's role in the recent reincarnation of the 'Liege And Lief' Fairport line-up. Both are ex-lead singers with the Albions, are involved in numerous other projects, as well as spending most of their time touring. Together they are one of the most established and successful duos on the folk circuit, having been nominated six times at the BBC awards.

Here and Now is their sixth release and I reckon the best. What you have here is just Chris and Julie stripped, metaphorically, to the bones. No band, no backing singers, as close to the live sound without the problems surrounding live sound or off the mark performances - not that this duo have any of those. The album gets off to a fine rousing start with the up-beat 'On My Way', moving through the emotional 'Breathe', the thought provoking 'Cover Our Eyes' before ending with the tear-producing 'So Long Old Pal'. Along the way there are other great examples of the song writing skills of Chris and Julie. I remember many years ago talking with a well-known folk singer/entertainer who spoke at length about how most writers can only manage one or two good songs in their career, with the rest just about good enough to fill set lists and albums. At the time I agreed with him - and there are still those around who provide supporting evidence - but this duo proves they are not most singers/writers. Just look at the list of luminaries who regularly cover their songs if you want further proof. Or you could pick up a copy of this Cd. I can't recommend it enough.

They have also produced it while Julie was involved in the recording. The choice of photos is an example to many others as is the overall packaging. I really like the way a serious study changes to the more usual smiling faces - you will need to buy a copy to really understand what I am getting at.

Finally a Question . Just when are they going to win an award at the Folk Awards? It is long overdue!!!

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.