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STEVE JORDAN "The Trees Scarce Green" Forest Tracks FTCD206

How refreshing to find an album that gives you an hour's playing time and no less than 19 tracks. None of this "short-changing of the purchaser", as so often happens here in the UK despite our CD prices being appreciably higher than most other places.

But I am not surprised to see that the label is 'Forest Tracks' that provides this added value. After all, there are not many record labels that were deliberately founded as a non-profit making organisation! (Though it is true to say that many record labels achieve that status by ACCIDENT, as it were!). Forest Tracks have a proud history: they were the label to put faith in the late Rick Keeling when others ignored him. (And he remains perhaps the most charismatic home-grown folk performer I ever saw. Some claim, that.)

And from label, to singer: how nice it is to find an artiste - in Steve Jordan - who has the "bottle" to sing songs that many traditional folk club "a cappella" singers would normally run a mile from. Not that all the songs are unaccompanied though: those two fine musicians from Belshazzar's Feast - Paul Hutchinson and Paul Sartin - perform in a sterling way on a handful of songs.

Steve moved to the Southampton area in the early 70s and became a resident at the Fo'c'sle folk club, a club I too attended in the years 1971-73.Since then, he has become a well-known name and quite a "character" on the Hampshire folk scene. His tenor voice is a curious mix of the brio of his namesake Fred, and the deliberate understatement of a Walter Pardon. (That is when he does not curiously transform himself into Bob Copper, which he does uncannily to his pal Geoff Jerram's Ron, in a wholly derivative - but truly enjoyable - Babes in the Wood). Most of the album is live performance, with no gaps between the tracks. Thus we not only get a genuine folk club atmosphere, but we get the benefit of his introductions (some of which are very funny indeed).

I can honestly say that the hour sped by. Not one track grated on me. Put me on the spot and ask me which tracks stood out for me, I would be inclined to say his homage to the Music Hall. Songs like The Man Who broke The Bank At Monte Carlo and With Her Head Tucked Underneath her Arm. Songs that deserve to be sung with greater regularity in your average club, instead of being sacrificed at the altar of the Singer-Songwriter.

To sum up then: an honest album from an honest character. A man with a serious voice and a nice line in humour.

Dai Woosnam

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