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PAUL & LIZ DAVENPORT - Shadows In The Mist 

PAUL & LIZ DAVENPORT - Shadows In The Mist 
Hallamshire Traditions HATRCD12 

Safe hands! This is the fifth album by Paul and Liz Davenport and what a traditional delight it is too! The production of the CD is simplicity itself, with most of the material being sung solo or in unison. Helping to create a pleasing balance to the whole, never intrusive and always an embellishment, there is an occasional concertina accompaniment. It could be argued that there are better ‘gun-slingers’ out there, who deliver near perfect vocals, instrumentalisation and production values, but in the process a sanitisation of the material can often occur. Not so here, Shadows In The Mist delivers an honest, heartfelt performance throughout, which is a refreshing, back to the roots attitude which many could learn from.

In terms of the material there are some real gems on this CD, approximately a quarter of which have been written with great skill, feeling and compassion by Paul himself. Molly Mainprize is a reworking of a factual event that happened in the 19th century when, for several years, great quantities of fish suddenly appeared and just as suddenly disappeared. In great traditional style, Paul has added a vaguely ethereal character called Molly, which certainly fits into the long tradition of songs concerning the ‘faerie world’. The CD takes its name from the last song on the album, which, whilst perhaps of local interest, is a fine evocative song concerning Saddleworth Moor. However, my favourite composition by Paul is the powerful This Is The Price. Essentially concerned with the Miners Strike of 1984-85, it is so much more than the cataclysmic event that rocked the mining community to the very core. A superb piece of work that deserves much wider exposure.

This CD is an exemplar of traditional and modern where the seam is rich, but never discernible between the new and the old, a fine accolade indeed!

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.