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PHIL HARE - A Stranger I Came

PHIL HARE - A Stranger I Came
March Hare Productions MHPCD002

Singer-songwriter-guitarist is a classification that does not do justice to Phil Hare’s artistry. Nor can he easily be pigeonholed in terms of style and repertoire. Hare is an extraordinarily skilled finger-picking guitarist with a mellow voice that is at times reminiscent of Paul Downes or Dave Burland. He credits Davy Graham and Martin Simpson as influences – and that shows to a degree in his approach. The CD includes a highly eclectic mix of sources in addition to his own writing - from blues to traditional airs. This is Phil’s seventh ‘official’ recording and will hopefully spread his reputation to a wider audience.

His songs – a sometimes not-so-subtle commentary on personal and contemporary politics – are all accompanied just by guitar, and the guitar playing shines. There are no additional musicians although both banjo (on I’ve Got My Country Back) and dobro (on Wayward) each make one-track over-dubbed appearances. All the song arrangements place as much, if not more, emphasis on the guitar than on the words. In this, and only in this, the style is classic singer/songwriter. At times the very heavy emphasis on the guitar’s bass strings becomes over-dominant in the mix but otherwise the mastering is, indeed, masterful.

Every track on A Stranger I Came will sit happily among the random tracks on my computer and the album as a whole provides a superb souvenir from any of Phil’s gigs. Recommended.

Tom Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.