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Ardura Music 452003

This CD contains six of Gerry Cambridge’s poems set to music by Neil Thomson. Neil plays several instruments here (guitar, low whistle, bouzouki, keyboards, accordion) and sings (I think, the CD notes do not specify), and Gerry adds harmonica.

Neil is a singer and songwriter from Paisley, and has been active around the folk scene in Scotland for several years. Gerry describes himself as “part of the Irish diaspora” though has lived in Scotland for a large part of his life. He is an excellent writer, sometimes in the Scots dialect, and his poems are full of vivid imagery of the natural world in particular; see, for example, his The Thought Of Snow, in which he describes the perfection of a snowflake as it begins its journey.

The setting of these poems to music is somewhat of a mixed bag however – some fare better than others. Though the musical arrangements are of good quality, and the singing and playing all up to standard (Neil’s guitar, particularly on The Nature Of Burns, is beautifully played and well recorded), sometimes, for me, the poems don’t translate well into songs – in places perhaps due to the lack of regular meter or rhyming lines. Neil has molded some to create refrains and choruses, for example in the opening Madame Fi Fi’s Farewell, which works well. But I think there is still some way to go before these become memorable, singable songs. For me, the poems work best as poems.

Michael White

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.