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DAVID MILTON - Songs From The Bell Man 

DAVID MILTON - Songs From The Bell Man 
Story Records STREC1801 

Three years ago I holidayed in the harbour town of Watchet in Somerset. It seemed a pleasant place, but without much for the tourist to watch. Having now listened to this engaging album, I suggest they rename it Hearit: for I’d no idea such a fine singer as David Milton resided there. And getting locals to hear things, is just what David is about: he is, appropriately, the Watchet Town Crier.

This debut CD is produced by - and features - adopted local, Ange Hardy. She adds studio musicians who exude good taste, and The Old Gaffers shantymen, who exude brio. At its end, it leaves us wanting more. Which is how this reviewer wants to feel about all albums he reviews: would that it was always so.

Greenland Fisheries was my pick of his traditional songs. It cheers us in these days of Greenpeace, in being the story of a whale that got away: though sad to say, at the cost of four human lives. Of his self-penned songs, Old Ben stands out: it beautifully relates the history of the town.

Rob Swan and Terry Walker should be congratulated on the liner notes: the booklet is a triumph of clarity and style. But the biggest cheer should go to Milton himself: why has it taken you so long, son? I forecast that God willing, there’ll be more.

Best track? That’s easy. Tennyson's much anthologised poem Crossing The Bar, here set to a melody fitting the words like a glove.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.