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JIM CAUSLEY - Devonshire Roses 

JIM CAUSLEY - Devonshire Roses 
HROC Music HROC05 

This is the second in a trilogy of recordings that Jim Causley’s been working on through the tedium of our lockdowns, and he’s found a theme which, somewhat to my surprise, appears not to have been examined by previous prominent Devon singers; these songs are all about that county, and most were composed there. They range from the traditional through to music hall, songs in praise of the county and its cider to the classics like The Bell Ringing and Tavistock Goozey Fair.

Jim has always been an exceptionally fine singer, and he is obviously very comfortable, enjoying the songs that surround him, and (despite the limitations of this time) has augmented his own undoubted musical skills with contributions from some fine musicians, family vocalists and even the Mariners Away Shanty Crew. The end result is a very professional recording, with plenty of mood contrasts from the solemnity of Blackingstone Ravens to the music hall comedy of Out Stepped Mother And Me (popular all over the West Country).

There were a couple of omissions, which may perhaps be rectified on the third recording. The Bampton Fair here was not the one I was expecting (although it was a fine song), and any collection of Devon favourites would seem to me to be incomplete without Exmoor’s anthem, The Exmoor Hunt Song, but I know Jim’s aware of these and other omissions – it just shows how difficult it is to make choices, and how wide that choice is.

The overall production is very professional and even includes little atmospheric touches, with birdsong, occasional verbal asides at the end of tracks and so on. The sleeve notes are succinct and informative and the cover design’s attractive. All in all, this is that rare thing, a folk recording that should succeed in appealing to visitors and holidaymakers as well as to the folk world. There’s undoubtedly enough material out there to justify another album in a similar vein; how about it, Jim?

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 138 of The Living Tradition magazine