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BILL WHALEY& DAVE FLETCHER "Less Sprightly" Bill Whaley & Dave Fletcher BILDA003

Although this is my first hearing of Bill Whaley and Dave Fletcher, Mel Howley's conversation with the duo in TLT 41 did a grand job of preparing me for the sound of two rich, lived-in voices singing their favourite songs to a free-reed accompaniment. I'm sure that's how the first two albums sounded - be assured that this is how "Less Sprightly" sounds too.

With 17 tracks playing for over an hour, there are songs a-plenty. The album has a deeply ingrained traditional atmosphere despite the majority of the songs being freshly-written, because all the writers draw inspiration from much older sources, even Bob Dylan, who hasn't written a traditional song in his life (so far.). Their Lincolnshire roots are eminently visible with fellow countyman John Connolly contributing no fewer than three. There is a writing credit for Martyn Wyndam-Read as well as two traditional songs from his Song Links project. Although the song-net has been spread wide, there is a great sense of unity about the album, largely due to the no-nonsense way the songs are approached, and the high-quality way they are delivered.

All in all, a delightful CD full to the brim with fine songs well sung, but be aware that these old dogs are not as averse to new tricks as they would have us believe - as well as sensible, sensitive and sparing overdubs, they also employ something called a "midi concertina". Technology Ahoy!

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 56 of The Living Tradition magazine.