"Flat Earth" WildGoose Recordings WGS309CD

"We think Patterson Jordan Dipper is extra-special - hope you think so too!", says the scribbled note from the LT office which accompanies "Flat Earth". In other words, "Slag off this one if you dare!" I enjoy a challenge, so I attempted find something to criticise. Fat chance. WildGoose are developing quite a reputation for excellence in production, and this CD is well up to standard. The inlay, with its atmospheric images, is a model of elegant restraint - and that's before you get to the eclectic choice of songs and their impeccable arrangement and interpretation.

Patterson and Jordan had been around the musical block but they only met Dipper at Whitby in 2000. An empathy remarkable given such brief acquaintance is evident on material as diverse as "The Game Of All Fours", with its erotic echoes of the chess game in The Thomas Crown Affair, to Ewan MacColl's "The Manchester Rambler" with additions by John Tams. Even well-worn numbers like "Rounding The Horn" and "William Taylor" sound new-minted, sprinkled with the angel-dust of Jordan and Dipper's sprightly accompaniment. A surprising inclusion is Flanders and Swann's "The Slow Train", with just the right elegiac yet urbane note struck by Patterson's vocal. Patterson has a wonderfully expressive voice, virtually devoid of mannerism and the ornamentation affected by some revival singers, which allows the songs to breathe and words heard maybe dozens of times to resonate afresh in the mind.

There is a reassuringly "solid" feel to the whole CD, reinforced by the complete absence of "flash" playing just for the sake of it. "We had fun making the recording", says Patterson in his inlay-notes and it shows; "Flat Earth" is a box of delights which simply could not have been created by "going through the motions". "Extra-special?" Yes, I think that's about right.

Dave Tuxford

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.