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To celebrate the rich heritage in song of your own locale is commendable and surely a natural progression concerning the deep sense of ‘being’ to the customs and legacy to which you belong. Creating a homage to the life and times of the working man in the North East of England, the songs on A Canny Tale have been researched or composed by Roly Veitch and work admirably from a local social historical perspective. Singing in a soft, soporific dialect, Roly provides the vocals, accompanying himself on guitar, banjo and ukulele, with Stewart Hardy on fiddle. Ranging from miners, horse racing, blacksmiths, stevedores and the activities of the press gang, the subject matter of the songs should engender a lively, diverse style and delivery. However, a homogenising process has taken place and much of the material sounds similar in delivery from one track to the next.

In general terms, the songs reiterate a local folk tale or event from Tyneside and the immediate outlying areas. To convey the intrinsic style and content of the CD, Winlaton Coal falls into the category of a history lesson combining the various trades necessary to dig the coal and its ultimate dispersal. A Keelman’s Lament is a sorry account about the press gang and fighting the French. Whilst most of the material has been composed by Roly, Blaydon Races and The Keel Row are songs which have stood the test of time and are still very popular in the North East and elsewhere.

From a local perspective, there is much to recommend this CD, but the work may not appeal much beyond Tyneside itself.

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.