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EMILY SLADE "Fretless" Rustic Thorn RUSTCD05

It's a bold step to introduce an unaccompanied song - in this case Dan Fogelberg's 'Wandering Shepherd' as the opening track of your second cd. But then again perhaps this should come as no surprise to those of us that have been following Emily's progress. Maturity is the first word that springs to mind but then again that is perhaps misleading as she had already established that point on her debut cd. An assured performance, now maybe that's getting more to the point. She also can't believe in making life easy for herself by choosing songs like Clive Gresgson's 'Blue Rose' - a really tricky one that. OK, so I might sound ageist but even on her own compositions which belie her youthfulness the bitterness of 'Towerblocks and Lullabies' is so powerful that it makes you wonder how she spent her time as a youngster. For her more 'folky' audience there is the inclusion of a couple of traditional songs but to be perfectly honest they pale alongside her own wordy (but worthy) compositions. Of course, for those looking for something to grasp hold of as some kind of recognisable safety net need look no further than Bob Geldof's 'I Don't Like Monday's'. Emily may well surround herself with some of the folk world's finest including Phil Beer, Mike Silver and Maartin Allcock but for my money this is a one horse race and I'm sure those artistes mentioned would agree with me. Although she may well be branded (unjustifiably) by those detractors who utter the words "A bit Leonard Cohen-ish." just take the time to read the lady's prose. Emily has already quickly established herself as a force to reckoned with on the folk circuit and is worthy of far wider consideration.

Pete Fyfe

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.