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Striatum Records SR140716

Steve Hicks and Lynn Goulbourn by their own admission demonstrate a wide taste in music – “British Isles folk, medieval music, Americana and cool jazz” - which perhaps is their Achilles Heel. Taken individually, the tracks on Immortal are musically treated in a skilled and competent manner, but considered as a whole there is no one consistent thread or style. That said, I am sure many listeners might argue that varying musical styles is a positive and enjoyable by its diversity. The one constant thread throughout is some quite superb ‘ragtime’ influenced guitar, especially the solo instrumental arrangement and performance by Steve Hicks of The Reincarnation Of Ratboy by Canadian drummer/composer Barry Elmes.

The successful chemistry that binds a duo together is a shared love of music, and this is much in evidence and abundance on the CD. However, for my money, Immortal is a CD in two parts vying with itself throughout the work. Lynn Goulbourn’s vocal compositions are of the popular subject matter often found in folk clubs, trees that become musical instruments, in search of fairies, or semi-comic songs about characteristics of folk who live in a particular area. On the other hand, Steve’s performance and arrangements of Jesus Was A Bootlegger by Jonathan Byrd or Lamento Di Tristano/La Rotta (anon), or even his influence on Cry Me A River by Arthur Hamilton, demonstrate his great virtuosity with a soulful jazz element deep down within his roots.

Hicks and Goulbourn’s Immortal certainly has its moments of pure musical chalky genius, but at others, merely cheese. However, the performance throughout is always attacked with considerable aplomb and alacrity; if you are looking for a fusion of styles then this is the CD for you.

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.