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STEVE TILSTON "Such And Such" Market Square Music MSMCD124

Guitarist Steve Tilston decided go professional about thirty years ago and over those years he has grown in both skill and stature as guitarist, songwriter and singer, gaining widespread recognition. He is probably best known for his solo work or his partnership with Maggie Boyle, but here he has gone into the studio with a select group of musicians with whom he has collaborated previously - Maartin Allcock (basses), Anna Ryder (keyboard, French horn, vocals), Roy Dodds (drums), Andy Sheppard (sax) and Richard Curran (strings).

There is cool jazz on the instrumental 'Totterdown' with Andy Sheppard's superb sax, a major component of the musicality, and the sax also underpins the lightness of 'West End Samba'. However on the next track the sax takes on a completely different character, highlighting the bleakness 'The Sniper'. A dark tale, compelling and thought provoking, which displays perfectly Steve's talent for finding the precise and apposite turn of phrase needed to convey an image. But he also uses that skill in somewhat lighter vein too on 'Waterhole', 'Mirror Dance', and 'Anthony Believes' where the wordsmith combines beautifully with storyteller. The last two songs also admirably showcase the violin and viola of Richard Curran, and a word should also be said about Roy Dodds, whose percussion is just really good and sympathetic throughout the album.

The last three tracks are love songs - love gone wrong on 'There is a Song', followed by love gone right with 'Sweet Such and Such', then surprisingly 'The Constant Lover', a traditional song with a distinctive Tilston arrangement and which makes a fine ending to an excellent album.

Steve has always rather ploughed his own artistic furrow developing a classically influenced guitar style; combined with folk-influenced vocals, and writing that is firmly rooted in the ballad tradition. "Such and Such" is his most ambitious recording to date, and he has drawn from a staggering range of sources and styles for the material, producing what is, without doubt, his very best album. Enough said!

Mel Howley

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