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MERIDIAN 'Prime' Harbourtown HARCD 043

Richard Jones is reportedly not sure how he ended up playing the accordion. A not uncommon fate, one suspects, to judge from all those individuals of a certain age whose dour demeanour suggests that, if only they'd taken up a respectable instrument like the guitar or penny whistle, they'd not now be spending their leisure time providing musical support to the hanky and bells fraternity. Jones had his chance as bass player with the Climax Blues Band, but somehow the tradition drew him in and now, along with Anna Tabbush (voice, fiddle, flute) and Chris Wilshaw (pipes, flute, whistles), he sounds as if he's been playing his instrument all his life.

As, indeed, his partners have. Tabbush sang before she could talk, whilst Wilshaw was a relative latecomer to folk at six. Both play with other bands The photos on the inlay indicate that the three are still frighteningly young, but they play with a remarkable maturity, resisting the temptation to flaunt their technical virtuosity at the expense of the music, much of which they write - at least on the evidence of this excellent début. The self-compositions are so much in the tradition (well, various traditions, ranging from the Gallic-flavoured Beamer and Crossing The Line to the quintessential Englishness of Portesham Breakfast) that you'd swear you'd heard them played at a dozen sessions. The two songs, Fair Nottamun Town and At The Break Of The Day (a fine version of Lemady), break up the instrumentals nicely and Tabbush's voice, with its engaging youthful innocence, suits them well. I hesitate to observe that we'll be hearing more of Meridian, lest this extend the 'artistic-differences' hostage to fortune - but, in the case of this accomplished trio who can undoubtedly 'play flash' but refreshingly choose not to, I think I'll risk it.

Dave Tuxford

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