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MAGGIE HOLLAND "Circle Of Light" Irregular IRR050

The first line of the first song-It was always summer- and you are off into songs of nostalgia, passing time, Robbie Burns, old men in cafes, the Diggers' movement and much more besides. This is Maggie's fifth solo record and follows the pattern set by her previous recordings-a collection of mainly contemporary songs, two self written and a couple of traditional songs.

She is an experienced performer and knows exactly how to put the well-chosen material across. She does songs of wistful melancholy as well as anybody else around. Robb Johnson's song 'Night Café' about people's broken dreams has a fade out banjo, which sounds like an old clock and works perfectly. Similarly her version of 'World Turned Upside Down' brings out her sorrow at the plight of the Diggers rather than the anger of Dick Gaughan's classic version.

The disc is well produced with sparse but entirely appropriate accompaniments - her version of Bob Dylan's 'Dream' is underpinned solely by Wendy Weatherby's cello and is a gem. She is not a prolific songwriter but the two songs of her own are up to her previous high standard. 'Number 4071 Private Bennett' tells the sad story of a young soldier shot for deserting his post in the First World War and here again the cello is used to give a poignant setting to the end of the song.

In essence this recording represents the best of the present contemporary folk scene. A collection of classy songs, which are sung in total sympathy with the lyrics coloured by minimal but entirely, suitable accompaniments. This is one of those understated recordings that does not necessarily grip on first hearing but reveals it's charms slowly and will get plenty of repeat plays over the years.

David Thorpe

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.