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ARTHUR KNEVETT - Simply Traditional

ARTHUR KNEVETT - Simply Traditional
Private Label

Most readers of this magazine will know Arthur Knevett, either through his stewardship in the 1960s of the Fighting Cocks Folk Club in Kingston upon Thames with Rod Stradling and Drew Lees, or, following his move to North Lincolnshire in 1974, his residency at Grimsby Folk Club and latter-day role as one of the organisers of Cleethorpes Festival. Or even his sizeable contributions to academic research on traditional song. All the while, Arthur’s been fortunate, over the whole period, to have been able to indulge his lifelong passion for singing traditional songs, and his confidently cultivated style is a distinctive one that tells the story with a keen sense of involvement and communication. I’ve not previously come across any recordings of Arthur’s singing, so this disc – made at the recording studios of Grimsby Institute – is a welcome addition to my collection of recordings of traditional singers. The very title of the CD, and its no-frills packaging with simple and effective artwork, entirely reflects and suits its contents: 13 songs, plainly delivered in straightforward, WYHIWYG unaccompanied mode, complemented by Arthur’s own admirably informative, honest background notes.

It’s a self-admitted eclectic mix of songs Arthur has known and sung for many years, his interpretations invariably distinguished by a clear sense of direction, a measured responsiveness and a quality of delivery that’s consistent almost to a fault but stronger for all that and always eminently listenable as Arthur leads the listener sure-footedly and reliably on through the narrative. I suspect that some listeners may desire a slightly greater expressive variation on occasion, but Arthur’s artistry is never less than compelling and is best taken on its own terms for maximum reward. It’s no mean feat to hold a listener’s engagement through a 7 or 8 minute timespan, and Arthur’s accounts of Bramble Briar and The Cruel Brother are object lessons in this art, with as characteristically sure a sense of pacing as he displays on the shorter songs such as I Drew My Ship, As I Roved Out and Van Dieman’s Land. No argument here regarding Arthur’s assured place and stature within the living tradition, then.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 117 of The Living Tradition magazine.