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IAN PITTAWAY - Lovers Beggars Soldiers Sailors

IAN PITTAWAY - Lovers Beggars Soldiers Sailors
IP Music IPM0211

On this first solo album, following Godgifu – The Legend of Godiva released in 2001 with supporting band, Ian Pittaway principally arranges a wide array of traditional song material for his own expressive guitar and vocal presentation. Some is familiar material (Lord Franklin, Barbara Ellen, Low Low Lands of Holland, and Flash Company for example); other pieces, with lyrics derived from historic broadside publications and collectors alike, less so. There are also two own compositions and arrangements of more contemporary pieces including Bruce Cockburn’s One Day I Walk and an emotive and compelling version of Irving Gordon’s American Civil War ballad Two Brothers. Extensive ‘Song and Tune Notes’ document the provenance of all the material in useful and interesting detail.

Using live studio recording, with space, even sparseness at times, accentuates well the natural and vernacular folk quality of the music. The guitar work, employing several tunings, is deft and adept, classically edged, sometimes even courtly, in character. Ian’s interest in early music and experience with period instruments is certainly very evident. This is most apparent in particularly atmospheric treatment of William Byrd’s Pavana the Earle of Salisbury (c.1611-13), O’Carolan planxty, and 16th century Coventry Carol but his presentation of the music is generally characterised by classical styling and period exactitude.

For some, the overall content and approach may be a little unvaried. Certainly, the guitar is at times a little thin and trebly (although the, at times, harpsichord like sound befits the more classical pieces very well) and could benefit from greater bass depth and warmth in dynamic range. The cover design and artwork too could be improved. However, these minor criticisms apart, Ian, for me, is another fine singer and guitarist who – with people like Phil Hare, Bob Wood, and J.P. Slidewell – deserves a high and celebrated profile.

Kevin T Ward
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This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.