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BEN WALKER "Polar Bear" Bedspring Music BOING 0313

Ben Walker is a multi-instrumentalist, playing uilleann pipes, guitar, flutes and keyboards to accompany his (all but one) self-penned songs, accompanied on bouzouki and harp by Chris Knowles. In addition to the song tracks, there are a few sprightly instrumental sets as well.

This is essentially a singer / songwriter's album though, with Ben's songs reflecting a personal outlook on life and a degree of introspection. The eponymous polar bear can be seen as simply an example of the writer's concern for a species that is left feeling a bit fragile and threatened by the vagaries of the world round about it, but could that also be the writer's more personal self- assessment?

Similar themes are articulated well in a pleasantly dark and mellow voice, with which the slightly unusual choice of accompaniment works really well, with the ability of the uilleann pipes to sustain the long note lending a suitable melancholy in the more serious numbers, or a sparkle when brighter topics are addressed, such as David Francey's Red Winged Blackbird.

The instrumental sets are accomplished and well-balanced, interspersing the songs well.

Gordon Potter

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