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STEVE TURNER - Spirit Of The Game

STEVE TURNER - Spirit Of The Game
The Tradition Bearers LTCD1105

Spirit Of The Game by Steve Turner is a recent recording for The Tradition Bearers label which “aims to bring to the fore the role of the current generation of traditional singers and musicians in our musical heritage”. Reviewing has become a great source of pleasure, especially when attempting to form a balanced opinion of the many fine musicians whose latest work lands at my door. Steve Turner is no exception; this CD has been very carefully considered, the track notes are extensive and informative, the production quality is superlative, the balance between one song and another has obviously been reflected upon at some length, but above all the songs themselves are performed with verve and attention to detail. Steve is a very fine concertina player which is an instrument, when played well, that augments and compliments a song. Steve’s arrangements are never intrusive but always add to the performance in a pleasurable and robust manner, the harmonies intertwine with the various tunes in a subtle flurry of glorious notes that lift each song out of the ordinary.

Within any collection there are always a few tracks which really stand out. For me, the opening song, Green Mossy Banks Of The Lea, is a delight from start to finish; a great tune ably supported by Steve’s fine concertina playing. Lampedusa, by Paul Metsers, is another song that decidedly deserves singling out from the pack. This is the stuff that ‘the tradition’ has been built upon - tragedy, hope, unrequited love, archaic occupations etc - and in this case the subject is the mass migration we are currently witnessing from Syria, Iraq and Northern Africa to Europe. The poignant lyric and fine tune exemplifies the appalling plight these refugees are obliged to endure. Music will not be their salvation but perhaps it may go some way to soften the hearts of those who want to close borders to migration from war torn lands. Steve’s voice and accompaniment are particularly suited to Highland Soldier, which is a particularly tuneful example, from The Grieg Duncan Collection, of songs that depict the loving wife dressing in soldier’s clothes and going into battle in order to be with her true love. I would like to highlight one final song, Done With Bonaparte. Steve states that he found the poem, written by Mark Knopfler, in the accumulated papers from a lifetime of singing and decided to set it to music. It turns out that there was already a tune written by Mark Knopfler, however Steve’s tune really adds and complements the work. Where else, other than in England, would anybody think fit to write a song about ‘the foe’ past or present that reflects the humanity of the ordinary soldier?

This is a worthy collection of songs that reveals so much about the human condition and, in particular, Steve himself.

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.