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ROB HARBRON - Meanders 

ROB HARBRON - Meanders 
Private Label ROBRECCD03 

We can't sensibly refer to Rob Harbron as the 'wunderkind' of the English concertina anymore. The go-to man of choice for any ambitious folkie project has been at the top of the wanted list for all manner of squeezing for two decades. At 40, there is a delightful maturity to his playing. Among those who have benefitted from his dexterity are the acclaimed Full English, Leveret, Faustus and Jon Boden and his Remnant Kings. There seems little doubt that at what he does, he is the best. The only fault I have ever found with his ensemble work is that he often seems, to my ears, to be a little too deep in the mix. He doesn't often get the chance to occupy the centre ground and leap off the speaker towers as the climax to a 20-minute concertina solo. It just isn't what he's about.

For this solo, correctly labelled as “long-awaited”, however, he doesn't have to fight for elbow-room. That is because it is a true solo effort, with Harbron resisting the temptation to bring in any of the legion of musicians who would have loved to help him out. He has also composed eight of the album's 11 tracks, the others being Trad/Arr. When the creation and the execution are done by one man (or woman), it gives a body of work an intimacy that folk music is particularly good at capturing. My favourite in the self-penned category is a brace of tunes going under the name of The Midnight Schottisches, whilst for a tune borrowed and adapted, it is hard to look beyond The Ship That Never Returned.

All that remains now is for Rob to develop his singing, which I am sure is perfectly serviceable. It has often been his fate to play in groups that have at least one dominant singer, but for me, the occasional song would spice up a gig or a recording in a way that would only enhance his main line of business.

Dave Hadfield


This review appeared in Issue 130 of The Living Tradition magazine