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DAN WALSH - Verging On The Perpendicular

DAN WALSH - Verging On The Perpendicular
Rooksmere Records RRCD117

If one name is synonymous with the revival of interest in the banjo in British folk music, it has to be that of Dan Walsh. Whether in combination with harmonica ace Will Pound, on his own, with the Urban Folk Quartet, or making guest appearances with the likes of Joss Stone, the Levellers and Seth Lakeman, he sets the standard.

It almost goes without saying that he once more plays up a storm on his album. His early influences were people like Gerry O'Connor and Barney McKenna and, although the type of banjo might be different, those roots are still audible in a largely stripped down format.

There is a certain familiarity, for instance, about starting the final set with Banish Misfortune; he is really getting back to basics. You either like the sound of the banjo or you don't, I still suspect, but no-one is better equipped to make converts than Walsh. His material for doing that is now predominantly of his own composition and it is not to disparage his songwriting to say that it lags some way behind his instrumental prowess. When he plays live, his songs are an amiable sideline. The main business revolves around that strange instrument he first heard in his youth. Having said that, his lament for leaving New Zealand, Leave This Land, is an interesting song and he handles a demanding piece like The Suilin with some confidence. If one or two of the other tracks are a bit on the light side, that is hardly a hanging offence.

Dave Hadfield

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