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KATE GREEN - An Unkindness of Ravens

KATE GREEN - An Unkindness of Ravens
Kate Green Music.  KGCD001

'This is a CD re-release of Kate’s 1994 album, originally on cassette only.    The publicity handout tells us that: “a prolonged period of ill health delayed a re-pressing.  The new century had dawned by the time she eased herself back into public performance.  By this time the CD was king, so a CD reissue was mooted.”

Now, we will lightly gloss over the fact that apparently in 1994 there was somewhere where the CD wasn’t  “king” (I mean, apart from the outer reaches of North Korea!): what concerns me more is that it has taken a full 12 years to see this very decent album make the transition to compact disc.

For those of you who don’t know Kate Green’s work, I think she can best be summed up as having a Scots voice that incorporates the timbre of a Barbara Dickson coupled with the intelligent interpretation of a Heather Heywood.    (Note that I talk of interpretation: any reviewer using the term “cover version”, with Ms Green, has clearly got their ears on wrong.   How come?  Well, there are several songs on this album that I automatically associate with certain performers: “She Moved Through The Fair” with Margaret Barry and Sandy Denny; “Reynardine” with AL Lloyd; and “By Weary Well” with The Incredible String Band.

But a measure of the success of her putting her OWN stamp on the songs and not simply doing “Matthew, tonight I am going to be Margaret Barry” etc. covers, is the fact she made the songs come up almost newly minted, and never made me think of the versions that I had long had in my mind from yesteryear.

She is accompanied by four stellar musicians (in alphabetic order) Mike Coleman, Raymond Greenoaken, Steáfán Hannigan and Patrick Walker.     And the album proves a solid showcase for her talents: clearly versatility is her middle name.   She can switch with apparently consummate ease from a bluesy rendition of Clive Palmer’s “Empty Pocket Blues”, to a big Child ballad like “The Cruel Mother, to a Hedy West-type approach to the old railroad song “Reuben’s Train”.

A thoroughly agreeable album.   I am not sure I would go to the barricades for it necessarily (that said, there is indeed very little for which I so would!), but to say anything less than “this is a very professional and pleasing debut CD” would be churlish – and silly – of me.

I wish it a fair wind.

Dai Woosnam.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 74 of The Living Tradition magazine.