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MARK EVANS 'A Rival Heart' Rival Heart Productions EVAN01

Mark Evans is a Gloucestershire singer and musician, who has recently returned from a spell in America, where he came into contact with many on the Irish-American music scene. He has managed to persuade a fair number to join him on this CD, and, let's face it, when you can attract the likes of Zan McLeod, Billy McComiskey, Jim Eagan, Myron Bretholz, Eliot Grasso and Andy Thurston to join in, then you've got some powers of persuasion!

Mark himself plays bouzouki, flute and whistles, as well as providing the vocals on the seven songs here. He has a well-modulated voice, with a good range and fine clarity of enunciation. Most of the songs in this collection are reasonably well-known, but Mark's arrangements are strikingly different, with most of the tunes being variations on the ones most commonly associated with the words. Not major re-writes, but enough to bring a freshness which makes the listener pay more attention and rediscover the stories behind the melodies. A particularly fine example of this is the title track, which is a reworking of the older A Rival Hath Stolen my True Love Away.

As the subtitle of the CD is Traditional Songs and Music of Ireland and Britain, there are a rattling good selection of tune sets interspersed with the songs, all of the high standard that you would expect from these musicians. All in all, a finely-crafted and sensitively-balanced recording, which is worth looking out for.

Gordon Potter

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