Chris Wood

Chris Wood - The Lark Descending
R.U.F. Records RUFCD10

Don't let the cover photo fool you, despite Chris Wood’s firm grip on a fiddle, this is not a recording of fiddle tunes. Instead we are treated to a collection of eight songs, three from traditional sources, and the rest his own. He accompanies his deep, warm voice with guitar and sometimes fiddle, and what may be viola, octave violin, or even a hybrid instrument. The liner notes merely say “all instruments and voices - Chris Wood”. His style is not one to be pigeonholed, as he skillfully combines tradition and innovation, without sounding dated. For anyone who has been following Chris Wood’s career, it is easy to see the foreshadowing of this CD. He’s been moving in this direction for years through his work with Andy Cutting and Martin Carthy. On most of the tracks the arrangements are lean and pithy, and the focus is on the words. He uses close harmonies and overdubbed strings to lend an intensity without overwhelming his voice. Many of the songs tend toward melancholy, and introspection. What else would you expect from something with a title like ‘Bleary Winter’? Perhaps the star cut on this CD is his expanded version of ‘Lord Bateman’. It’s always a pleasure to hear a Child ballad sung with such heartfelt expression, especially one with a happy ending. The long love story/song ‘One in a Million’ (words by Hugh Lupton) will leave a smile on your face and features a chorus that just begs to be sung. This is the kind of recording that reveals new delights at every listening. It won’t get your toes tapping, but it will stir your heart and inspire you to sing along. Fittingly, he ends this recording with the words “But we will walk this world with music”. Long may he stride.

E. Bradtke

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