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BOB MACLEAN - Single Malt 

BOB MACLEAN - Single Malt 
Private Label BMCD2018 

This is Canadian Bob MacLean’s fifth album. The initial impression looking at the card CD sleeve was that this was a sampler: it only had a parsimonious nine tracks, but no, that was the album. The sleeve, sadly, contains only the track listing and acknowledgements – nothing about the songs themselves. MacLean’s storytelling is, by and large, more than competent and the careful arrangements, uncluttered and effective, by four guest musicians, never overwhelm the singing. MacLean’s singing is somewhat affected, staccato, stilted and lacks flow, but the choice of songs is wide ranging and draws on tradition from both sides of the pond as well as contemporary writing. The contemporary songs tend, to this reviewer’s ear, to be ‘twee’ – one could cite Woman Of Labrador or By The Glow Of The Kerosene Light. There are also two delightful instrumental tracks: The Sweetness Of Mary and the final track, a set of three tunes, showcasing Bob’s precise guitar work on its own. The traditional songs, such as Bogie’s Bonnie Belle, Farewell To Nova Scotia or Lost Jimmy Whelan are competent and the stories are well told.

Ultimately, however, this would, for many, be a background CD: it does not demand focussed attention after the first listening.

Tom Brown


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine