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Cilletune Music

To be outstanding as a performer (let alone, a FOLK performer), in my considered opinion, you have to have three things: 1) an eye, an ear and an unstoppable passion for a good song; 2) a deep perception of the best way to manipulate the combined attributes of the lyric and the line of the melody of a song, appropriate to your own voice and style; and 3) the voice to carry it off and indeed epitomise it.

Mike Nicholson has ALL these attributes to a most unfairly high standard – in fact, the highest! His is a voice to die for on any day of the week and has a totally unique, intense and yet at the same time, calming quality to it, making this CD nothing short of a delight from the start to the finish. Such rich tones, such an incredible variety of repertoire and every song sounds as if it was written for him.

Mike is clearly an avid fan and supporter of the best of English and Canadian contemporary folksong writers in the material he chooses and includes a good smattering of them here: Graeme Miles’ Farndale Daffodils, Roger Bryant’s All Gone Away and Remember Me, Barry Wake’s The Blackface Miner (new writer to me and a GREAT song), John Oke Bartlett’s Green Remembered Hills, Dave Goulder’s The January Man, Steve Thomason’s The Bard, Stan Rogers’ Free In The Harbour, Dave Toye’s Let The Music and Ron Truman Border’s Wartime Springtime. All these great songs are worthy of the term ‘ANTHEMS’ or certainly become so when Mike sings them!

But, plainly, he is not limited to newer songs, oh no…just listen to how he interprets the four traditional songs and ballads beautifully interspersed within. Listen, for instance to his ultimately transporting interpretation of the great McCafferty or the beautifully delivered and impeccably paced ballad Lovely Molly - please trust me, they don’t come any better than this and wait till you see him do a gig, if you haven’t already!

One of the things I have always particularly loved about Mike’s application of musical arrangement is that he always, quite consciously, keeps his guitar work simple (that’s NOT to say EASY) so as to ensure that it never takes the attention from the message in the song – this is a prime skill and is a true credit to him and testimony to the sensitivity and overall sense of judgement he always employs to such great effect. To add texture, Mike has surrounded himself with a very well chosen ‘enhancement ensemble’ of singers and musicians who all deserve credit for maintaining that same philosophy in the execution of their contributions. Great fiddle from Eddie Hurdman; banjo, mouth organ and bouzouki from Simon Hurdman and seminal vocal back up from the casual choir of Hilary Spencer, Derek Gifford, Peter Collins and Pete Luscombe - BLIMEY - wot’s not ter like theer? Supreme in the extreme!

Be in no doubt, Mike Nicholson – we remember you alright – please don’t ever stop. People…buy this CD…it’s important.

Keith Kendrick

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This album was reviewed in Issue 103 of The Living Tradition magazine.