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BARRY NISBET - A Bright Ray Of Sunshine

BARRY NISBET - A Bright Ray Of Sunshine
Rattled Rig Music RRIG001

I confess the album’s title is a bit of a puzzle to me. True, one song, Come In The Summer Time, is an up-tempo declaration that summertime is best. And there are a couple of jigs that set the toes a-tapping. But that apart, there is positively no need to slap on the Ambre Solaire against this particular “bright ray of sunshine”. For the subject matter includes sailors dying of fever on Ascension Island (Comfortless Cove); the modern worldwide refugee crisis (Train To Anywhere); and the Shetland disaster of 1881 when many fishermen were drowned and their vessels lost (Da Ballad O Da Jessie). Subject matter that is not exactly a bundle of fun.

But maybe the clue comes in the final track (Within Sadness). This is one of the better songs. I reckon it a worthy companion song to Jackson Browne’s Fountain Of Sorrow, in that it captures that fleeting moment of deep sadness in someone’s eyes. And whereas in Jackson’s song a smiling face saves the day, in Barry’s, a bright ray of sunshine appears.

Barry’s diction intrigues me. On the opening track, he is positively RP Oxbridge; then by track two becomes noticeably Scots; and by track seven, is delivering his words in broadest Shetlandese...!!

He and his classy studio band are instrumentally pukka. It is a very pleasant 44 minutes, and in his Scots singing mode, his voice is extraordinarily reminiscent of that of the late great Iain MacKintosh. And there can be no higher praise.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.