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Denny Bartley - Midnight Feast Aloft Records aloftcd004

To maintain healthy growth and fruitful evolution, the folk revival's major iconic moments must be regularly revisited, reworked and reappraised. June Tabor's "King Of Rome", Dick Gaughan's "The Worker's Song" and Christy Moore's "Nancy Spain" inhabit the very top of the icon tree, so it is to Denny Bartley's immense credit that his exciting solo album sheds new light on all three. He illuminates several more contemporary texts from such great writers as Lal Waterson, Bob Dylan and Ewan McColl, and broadens the beam with a superb Graham Moore Tolpuddle song, a Sean Tyrrell reworking of a "Mo Bhron ar an BhFarriaige" and Nic Jones' version of "The Blind Harper".

But don't go thinking that this album is a series of impressions or imitations. The reason why these varied sources make such a unified whole is that Denny's unique vocal and guitar style guarantees that each song is unmistakably claimed as Bartley property. Producer and Audio Loft Master Ron Angus plays a little tasty guitar on Pete Morton's extraordinarily moving "Love Me In Eden", the rest is pure, unadulterated Denny.

Previous to "Midnight Feast" I had only heard him with Chris Sherburn, or with Chris and Nick Scott as Last Night's Fun. I have always admired his vocal style (and enjoyed lively discussions with those few cloth-eared souls who don't), and I always wished I could hear more of his amazing singing. Now with the expert help of Ron Angus and a few generations of audio technicians he can sing in our house any time. And he does!

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 44 of The Living Tradition magazine.