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KAREN MACLEOD - The Wind On The Sea 

KAREN MACLEOD - The Wind On The Sea 
Private Label 

Karen is an acoustic guitarist from the Nottingham area. Although she also sings, this album features 29 tracks of solo guitar - a mixture of blues, ragtime, folk tunes, acoustic covers and some original work, a result of a lifetime of listening to and playing guitar.

Karen describes these tunes as “a growing band of companions who have accompanied me over the years”. These years include her time playing in The Hogrenderers with her duo partner, Gordon Pollitt (who sadly passed away recently), her travels through Europe, and her experiences in an earlier duo, Sanders & MacLeod. Since Gordon’s passing, Karen has been building a reputation as a solo artist, and on the evidence of this CD, she is well able for that challenge.

Recrded during lockdown, the album has a good, bright sound throughout, the guitar having been captured well. Karen’s fingerpicking is excellent, crisp and clean in the most part, and she certainly knows her way around the fretboard. She gives her interpretations of some well-known songs and tunes: from the folk canon, Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now and Bob Dylan’s You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome; from the classical sphere, pieces like Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring and Brahms’ Lullaby; and hymn tunes such as Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind. She also performs several of her own compositions, including the beautiful Dying Days, written while her mother was in hospital. But it is on the blues and ragtime pieces where she really excels. River Rag and Mississippi Blues are outstanding displays of her skill in this area, and Hold Fast Furry Lewis (a tune I would recognise as Vestapol) is another good example.

At 29 tracks and nearly 73 minutes, this CD will probably be of most interest to hardcore guitar fans who enjoy a fingerpicked style. Although not exclusively ‘folk’, it is certainly the sort of material that might be heard in a folk club or acoustic session, and my guess is that many players will listen with envy at Karen’s mastery of the humble guitar.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine