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Green Man Productions GMCD008

Chris has emerged from the fastnesses of his Icelandic home with a CD that’s heavily redolent of his Somerset roots. Most of the tracks are traditional, together with a couple by Leon Rosselson, and with one self-penned number to conclude the recording. Judging by the notes on the tracks (in a very professional booklet) many of the others have been on his radar, if not in his repertoire, for decades, so that this excellent CD is, in many ways, a distillation of what makes his singing what it is.

And it really is good; these are real, meaty songs that tell strong stories, and Chris’s distinctive voice and engaging phrasing enhance the quality of his material. It is in the nature of story-songs to be lengthy, and with songs like The Holland Handkerchief and Rosselson’s Who Reaps the Profit? Who Pays the Price? it takes a singer of considerable ability to hold his audience for the length of the song, let alone for the duration of a CD that includes several such songs. This never appears to be a challenge for Chris, whose ability to ‘carry’ a song has only improved over the years.

The entire CD is complemented by musical input from a stellar cast of musicians ranging from John Kirkpatrick to Jackie Oates, and chorus input from Chris’s partner Bára Grímsdóttir and Jim Causley among others – evidently Mr Foster generates a good deal of respect across the folk world. I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing him sing ‘live’ for some years, but I’ll make sure I don’t miss him next time he’s touring. I suggest you do the same – you certainly will if you’ve heard this CD.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 119 of The Living Tradition magazine.