Johnny Coppin

Johnny Coppin - The Winding Stair
Red Sky Records RSKC118

The musical CV here is impressive – a late 50s/early 60s beat rocker in common with many of us of a, ahem, certain age and whose membership of the fondly-remembered and occasionally revived ‘Decameron’ dates back to 1968, Johnny Coppin’s solo years now span four decades and cover an album count well into double figures. This delicate and affecting CD, covering music of these Isles and the USA is a mix of new songs, a touch of trad/arr. and some inspired takes on material the likes of Karine Polwart’s ‘Sun’s Coming Over The Hill’ and ‘Such A Night Of Stars’, from the estimable Eamon Friel.

A largely satisfying album on many levels, this is music of consequence albeit with occasional vocal lapses into the merely pleasant rather than the challenging - but it’s surely classy stuff. Relying for the most part, on his evocative piano, Johnny has surrounded himself with musicians Paul Burgess, Phil Beer and Mike Silver for example, whose enthusiasm suffuses each track. It’s Mick Dolan’s literate acoustic guitar solos that hit the spot for this writer though and the warmth of his and Coppin’s simple production brings out the bittersweet character of much of the writing here.

A connoisseur of quality songs, and rightly describing Paul Metser’s ‘Peace Descends’ as ‘wonderful’ Coppin’s own title track about a favourite bolt-hole of a Dublin bookshop and café has a lyrical finesse that is seductive and affectionate.

Tastefully melancholic but never despondent, Winding Stair is a timely reminder of a special talent that has glided beneath the radar of public consciousness for too long.

Clive Pownceby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 64 of The Living Tradition magazine.