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KEN WILSON - Portraits 

KEN WILSON - Portraits 
Private Label BITCD348 

You may have heard Ken Wilson sing as part of Teesside’s mighty Wilson Family. It’s less likely you’ve heard him as a solo singer. Portraits is his second solo album. It shows that his voice is as good as any out there – rich, strong yet effortless, and beautifully controlled. He made me to listen to every word, even on the songs I knew well. Most songs are unaccompanied or with backing vocals from wife Christine, sons Adam and Lee, and producers Barrie and Ingrid Temple. Stewart Hardy on fiddle and Barrie on concertina provide variation.

Of 16 songs on this 57-minute album, just over half are traditional. In Pleasant And Delightful, The Lowlands Of Holland and True Lovers (a version of High Germany) couples are parted by press gangs and wars. On a lighter note are The Barley Straw (via the Young Tradition and Harry Cox) and Happy’s The Man, with tune and arrangement by Barrie to lyrics collected by Alfred Williams. Rufford Park Poachers shares a theme pursued in some of the non-traditional songs: the oppression of the common man. From the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 (Brian Pearson’s Children Of The Earth) to The Falklands War (Jim Woodland’s Ghost Story) the ruling class gets it in the neck. Keith Hancock’s Absent Friends is dedicated to the memory of Vin Garbutt, and Ewan MacColl’s The Joy Of Living was learnt as a family song for the funeral of Ken’s mother.

Great singing, and a very rewarding album.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.