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JIM MALCOLM " Home" Beltane Records BELCD102

Jim Malcolm is one of those singers that can always be relied on. His singing style is both restrained yet quietly powerful, and he conveys his messages with a minimum of fuss, preferring to let the words tell their own story. Jim's canny choice of backing musicians also shows their respect for the material, never overpowering, always complementing.

This is Jim's fourth solo album, and starts with Fields of Angus, a tribute to the travelling people, and a reminder of a threatened lifestyle. There are dips into the tradition, such as Bonnie Glenshee, Robert Burns' Lea Rig, and a thoughtful mixture of self-composed numbers, which all quietly reflect on life and make commentary on Jim's outlook.

Perhaps the most gripping track for me was, however, Sir Patrick Spens - aye, that same poem that was dunned into us all at school. The difference is that whereas schoolteachers, in general, never seemed to get a lot of reaction to it, Jim's new melody and use of a chorus verse bring out all of the nuances of historic tragedy and pathos that are in the balladeer's words.

As a final track, The Freedom Come All Ye stands as a tribute to the mighty Hamish Henderson, it also stands as an example of how Jim can take a song currently in vogue and make his rendition just a wee bit special. Home is where the heart is, and Jim Malcolm's heart is clearly in this recording.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 53 of The Living Tradition magazine.