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BENJI KIRKPATRICK 'Half A Fruit Pie' Fellside FECD181

It would have been a little surprising if a son of John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris had not chosen a musical career, although the Shropshire-born bouzouki player and recent squire of the morris side his Dad founded, whilst acknowledging parental influence, is keen to emphasise his independence. Coming to folk via a college rock band and a love of Jimi Hendrix, he first recorded for Fellside as part of Dr Faustus, with whom his sense of rhythm, so important in playing English music - and so apparent on Half A Fruit Pie - was noted by label manager Paul Adams, who encouraged him in his intention to make a solo album.

In the course of establishing a musical identity of his own on his debut CD, however, Benji Kirkpatrick isn't averse to letting his old man help out on accordion and backing vocals. The squeezemeister's kept firmly in his place, though, and (apart from a little assistance from Seth Lakeman on fiddle and vocals and Richard Adams on drums) Benji plays all the other instruments himself. The instrumentals are mainly self-penned (although the CD concludes with a rousing medley of Such A Getting Upstairs I Never Did See/Three Jolly Sheepskins) whilst the songs are traditional apart from Benji's first foray into songwriting, a witty little vignette about the joys of the open road.

The performances have a distinctive flavour, not least because the dominant instrument is one not much associated with English music. In addition, despite his youth, Benji proves to have not only a feeling for the old songs of love and death - not to mention a deft touch with an arrangement - but a voice whose timbre is very effective in conveying the essential melancholy of much English traditional song. Daddy, one imagines, is very proud.

Dave Tuxford

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This album was reviewed in Issue 56 of The Living Tradition magazine.