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Stockfisch Records SFR35740782

There cannot be many unfamiliar with Allan Taylor and his universally loved songwriting style and performance ethic. This album, his sixth under the Stockfisch brand, sums up what attracted many of us to his songs in the first place (in my case, the Lakes Folk Club, Ambleside, early 70s). The guy can simply tease exactly the right emotions out of what appears, on first listening, to be the simplest of lyrics – but in truth possessing the ultimate depth and scale.

On this occasion, he seems to have unwittingly performed tributes to seminal influences – The Best I Can could have been a Randy Newman original, the title song is uncannily reminiscent of Jacques Brel and One Last Smile smacks of Tom Paxton at his best. Indeed, he offers his own take on Paxton’s I Followed Her Into The West – and nails it. The subject matter includes tales of homeless street folk and a translated love song by Santino de Bartolo, but really, as you might expect from somebody that’s populated his own corner of the scene for upwards of 40 years, there is a lot of reflection and stories of life on the road.

The supporting cast is also of the highest order – pianist Lutz Möller plays superbly on most tracks, although AT’s son Barnaby also shines on The Endless Highway. Ian Melrose contributes brilliant complementary guitar alongside Allan Taylor’s own measured playing. There are high production values and excellent packaging with copious notes from the man himself. I get the impression that Allan Taylor has never been more comfortable in his own skin and this CD is triumphant evidence of the same.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 99 of The Living Tradition magazine.