Link to Living Tradition Homepage





IAN LORD - North Light

IAN LORD - North Light
Private Label

This Bristol-based musician, who styles himself The Folktastic Mr. Lord, lives on a boat and specialises in reinterpreting traditional folk songs, and this CD contains eight such plus the Bellamy setting of Kipling’s The Way Through The Woods. These vocal outings are interspersed with three self-penned guitar instrumentals of the fluid, mildly meandersome and impressionistic variety which ultimately prove less distinguishable than their (mostly ostensibly ornithological) subjects might imply.

Ian sings in a declamatory, upfront, in-the-face vocal style that might be described as abrasive and unyielding, and is unlikely to be to everyone’s taste, at least initially (though I found myself getting accustomed to it surprisingly quickly). Songs given the “folktastic” treatment by Ian include classic ballads like Sheath And Knife and Poor Murdered Woman, and singaround staples like Green Grow The Laurels. On several of the songs Ian’s vocal delivery contrasts with, and is complemented by, an instrumental backdrop of intricate acoustic guitar/s overlaid with droning viola and/or mournful fiddle – check out Ian’s take on Lord Randall, which put me in mind of a purely acoustic (and better recorded!) version of the Velvet Underground (for all that Ian’s voice is at the opposite pole to Lou Reed’s sepulchral drawl), and ends with a snarling approximation of Tuvan throat singing! In fact, once the initial shock wore off I rather warmed to his determined (if eccentric), harsh, rough-hewn vox-and-fiddle takes on Bushes And Briars, Green Grow The Laurels and The Bonnie Bunch Of Roses-O (although he seems to lose control momentarily with a bleating vibrato on the final note of the latter) and his vox-and-viola account of Prickle-eye Bush variant, The Briery Bush. He clearly identifies with the songs’ protagonists, although not every song suits his uncompromising approach (Bonnie Light Horseman sounds distinctly strained). Rather interestingly, Ian’s singing sounds almost conventional by comparison when he tackles Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills (but that’s on a YouTube clip, not on this CD).

Ian brings a definitive and distinctive personality to his readings of traditional material and, whatever one’s personal feeling about the sound of his vocal delivery, he makes the songs his own, and you have to respect him for that.

David Kidman

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.