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HARRIET BARTLETT "Eyes Wide Open" Greentrax CDTRAX255

I was going to avoid the 'youthful exuberance' cliche - but then I remembered that cliches get into usage for good reasons. This CD, from a teenage tearaway of the accordion, sparkles and engenders gasps and smiles in equal measure. I'm not a box player, but this sounds like hellishly good box-playing to me. There are rapid-fire tunes such as the quirky Music For A Found Harmonium and slow, sensitive tunes such as Harriet's own Philly Boy waltz - written for mentor and producer Phil Cunningham. Wisely, Harriet has also decided to give her tonsils some exercise and turns in excellent versions of Richard Thompson's Crazy Man Michael (not in the least over-awed by Sandy Denny's version.), Alastair McDonald's Culloden's Harvest and Huw Williams' well-loved Some People Cry. The addition of songs definitely broadens this CD's appeal.

If I were to struggle for a criticism to give this review credibility, it would be that Harriet over-reaches herself very slightly on the unaccompanied My Donald and uses too many exclamation marks in her sleeve notes (!) - but this is a nit-pick from a pedantic old fan of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. The whole feel of this is a multi-talented wide-eyed (as per CD title) teenage enthusiast having a ball discovering the richness of music that is out there already in folk and adding to it. More of this, please.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 55 of The Living Tradition magazine.