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TERRY YARNELL "A Bonny Bunch" Tradition Bearers LTCD1101

To see Terry Yarnell's name on this CD brings a touch of nostalgia. I used to see him quite often around the London folk scene of the '60s and 70s, and hear him on the albums produced by the Critics Group. He was known even then for his interest in ballads, and for the depth of understanding he brought to his performances. These qualities show through still in what I think is his first solo album.

A Londoner with an Irish mother, Yarnell has listened intently to the best of traditional singers with consequent influence on his style. The vocal decorations we hear so often from him show his immersion in the Irish Sean Nos, but he is no mere copyist. His style is distinctly his own, a steady paced delivery, decorated, but with an emphasis on the narrative. It is to his credit that for all he likes to embellish the melody the story is always allowed to flourish, the mark of a good ballad singer.

As for the songs, well, he makes a strong start with a fine version of 'The Bonny Bunch of Roses', and just goes on from there with a heavyweight selection including 'The Flying Cloud', 'The Trees Grow High' and 'Clerk Saunders' with 'Hopping Down in Kent' to lighten the mood.

John Pole's 'Mr Fox' re-working of the Bluebeard/Reynardine story unfolds dramatically, and Ewan MacColl's 'Sweet Thames Flow Softly gets a suitably tender treatment, enhanced by Yarnell's own guitar. A good debut from a most able singer.

Roy Harris

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