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IVAN DREVER - Bless The Wind

IVAN DREVER - Bless The Wind
Orcadian Records  ORCCD004

Not withstanding Ivan’s prolificy (with so far eight solo albums, several duo albums with the likes of Duncan Chisholm and Ian Cooper, and half a dozen with Wolfstone to his credit), and notwithstanding his songs and tunes having been recorded by an impressive list of fellow-artists, the consistent high quality of this Orcadian’s work has, it seems, still been somewhat of a best-kept secret even among cognoscenti of good songwriting, and the burgeoning reputation and multiple-award-winning status of Ivan’s massively talented son Kris has (more especially of late, perhaps) rather tended to eclipse Ivan’s own standing.

However, the release (albeit with little apparent fanfare) of Bless The Wind (solo album number eight in a 20-year-plus career), should by rights bring Ivan’s talent firmly back under the radar. It’s a fine collection indeed; recorded in March last year near Evanton, north of Inverness, it presents Ivan and his guitar sympathetically backed by his erstwhile Wolfstone colleague Andy Murray (guitar, bass), album producer Les MacPherson (percussion) and wife Linda (extra vocals), while thanks to the miracles of remote-recording technology, Paul Eastham contributed some subtle keyboard parts from his home at the opposite end of the country.

The beautiful simplicity of Ivan’s melodies and sentiments, especially on songs like If I Could, recall the superbly crafted songs of criminally undersung artists like the late Ewen Carruthers (or Allan Taylor on the title song and on Say It’s OK, which was inspired by reading Brian Wilson’s book Wouldn’t It Be Nice). As always, Ivan’s commitment to the art of songwriting shines through whatever topic he tackles, whether it be the Highland clearances (A Hundred Ships), tempestuous relationships (Crazy Some Days) or simple political philosophy (All I Wanted). The album also contains a couple of tracks with a companionable country feel: for instance, Bring Me Down could well be a lost Jim Reeves number (indeed, it’s clearly inspired by the fact that Ivan’s mother and her brothers’ were big fans of that country legend). Pledged To Another takes the form of a classic ballroom-waltzer; maybe, though, If You Took Your Love Away veers a little too close to Eurovision territory, as Ivan points out in his tongue-in-cheek booklet note…! Ivan also candidly admits that the lyrics of several of these latest songs had lain for some years awaiting a melody; for instance, The Wordsmith started out as a poem five years ago; and yet, although it’s not by any means the earliest of the twelve songs on the record in purely compositional terms, its belated setting to music seems both entirely natural and proves genuinely memorable. As indeed could be said of virtually every song on the album, well-crafted and put together with affection and humanity.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.