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Irregular Records IRR091

As ever, Robb Johnson nails his colours to the mast on 15 self-penned tracks. Lively, passionate, committed and with catchy, sing-along choruses, these are “...songs engaging with the reality of contemporary society...” according to the comprehensive and informative notes on his website.

The strength of feeling is evident, especially on such numbers as The Spawn Of Tony Blair and Win Lose Or Draw. However, Michael Gove no longer being Education Secretary diminishes the impact of several tracks. Elsewhere, two of the songs are heart-felt devotions to trade unionists Terry French and Bob Crow and two mark the World Wars. A poignant love song stands out – When I Bring You Roses and Robb includes a tribute to his father in Goodnight And Goodbye. True stories are sometimes woven into their lyrics, reflecting scenarios of current life.

The intention has been to create a live-style recording, inspired by the directness and energy of the likes of Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seeger. As Robb states in the notes, the CD “...manages to capture what I really sound like on a good night...” These are songs without frills, most of them being first takes. Accompaniment comes from Robb himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica, while additional percussive input and vocals are provided by his son, Arv.

In taking a sincere viewpoint on the issues of our age and speaking to our times, Robb Johnson keeps folk music relevant and thought-provoking. Us And Them shows what can be created by one man and a guitar.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 104 of The Living Tradition magazine.