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MIKE NICHOLSON 'Soundcheck' Cilletune Music CD0043

Mike Nicholson's name is being heard around the clubs and festivals quite a bit nowadays, and always with approval. 'Have you heard Mike Ni...?' they say, and those of us who have known Mellow Mike for some time say 'Yes, and damned good he is'. It's an opinion being shared by more and more audiences as he makes his journeys around the scene.

Albums like this won't do his growing reputation any harm either. It's a typical Nicholson choice, lots of grand songs deftly chosen between contemporary and traditional sources, and all sung with one of the most easy- on- the- ear voices to be heard anywhere. As I write I have the CD playing, for about the 10th time, (it's that kind of album), and the voice is weaving it's way through Pete Arnold's 'Drums of Childhood Dreams' expressing it's tender lyric with utter conviction. This one will cause many an eye to fill when heard live I'll guarantee. John Connolly's 'Weary Winter' is next, firmer and more optimistic, sung with conviction at just the right pace, as indeed are all the songs here.

What the album tells us is that Mike Nicholson is a craftsman singer, who considers what his songs have to say, and then finds the most appropriate way of delivering the message. The husky warm quality of his voice has a passing resemblance to Martyn Wyndham-Read, at times, only deeper. It's a fine instrument and he uses it well. He shows good diction and control of range and tone throughout the fifteen tracks, which include songs by Colum Sands, Stan Rogers, Dave Boulton & Jeff Parton, among others. The traditional songs include a fine performance of 'Old Adam', and the beautiful hymn 'Oikan Anys Bethlehem' .in an English translation. Before you ask, I don't know what the title means!

When this CD gets around a lot of people are going to be answering that 'Do You Know........? question with 'Yes, and damned good he is'. You'll see.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 58 of The Living Tradition magazine.