JOHN TAMS - The Reckoning
Topic TSCD551

This review has been prepared under the 2005 Bechofer rules for CD critics… unqualified praise discouraged and clichés (hopefully) avoided like the plague (!).

This is a John Tams CD – so there are some “given” expectations. We’d expect anthemic songs, some traditional, some not. We’d expect Albion Band/Home Service flavoured instrumentation with the odd toot from a brass section. We’d expect a slightly sombre, or at least thoughtful, feel generally. All of these we have. The question is, “Is this a good John Tams CD?”

Answer – most definitely “yes”. The opener, ‘Written in the Book’, is a wistful self-penned comment on ageing and nostalgia. There’s a spooky version of ‘ The Bitter Withy’, whose tune supports the disturbing story far better than does the rather jolly one that we all know better. John signs off on an atypical jaunty swing/shuffle with... (“everything goes up in price”)…Including Love. On ‘ The Reckoning’, JT has managed to stretch his writing and performing usefully without sounding either forced or unlike himself. As is usual, it’s hard to be sure without prior knowledge which of the songs is self-penned, as JT’s writing has such a strong traditional “feel”.

If you know and like John’s work – you’ll love this. If you don’t, it might be a good place to start, with more variety than some of his earlier work, while remaining very recognisably JT, very English and very distinctive.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 65 of The Living Tradition magazine.