Link to Living Tradition Homepage





BILL LLOYD - Heavy Duty - Ballads of the Unfree

BILL LLOYD - Heavy Duty - Ballads of the Unfree
Wildwood Acoustic WILDCD20171

Those of you who know me are aware that I tend to avoid concept albums – but this one slipped under my radar. Fifteen songs here, broadly on the theme of Americana, and specifically the struggles of underdogs from the earliest frontier days right up to present, gathered together by a weel kent face of the Cumbrian folk scene. The various sources give the lie to the mother lode (as perceived by Bill Lloyd) – three Townes Van Zandt songs, one Dylan, one Gillian Welch and three traditional form the core backbone. Dave Gibb’s Privateer is also included, probably as its original narrative was supposed to relate to slavery, but it became a pirate song. Steve Earle’s Billy Austin, however, is a perfect fit to the theme. The accompaniment is pretty competent throughout, and Bill Lloyd attacks the songs reasonably, within the confines of his less than luxurious vocal range. A soupçon of humour in his adaptation of Will Anderson’s American Mythology is one of the few lighter moments, where the cinema’s skewed representation of cowboys and native Indians is exploded.

The opening song (Ethan Allen by Bob Amos) is another track that gains from repeated listenings – and he even has a competent stab at Dylan’s Chimes Of Freedom. The enthusiastic hurling of his voice at Freedom Come All Ye as a closer is possibly ill-advised, though, on a number of levels (and its relationship to the core theme is tenuous at best). At 67 minutes, at least you can say there’s a fair bit of music to get your teeth into. Sadly, much of it is not to my taste – but there are plenty of samples on his website if your curiosity gets the better of you.

Grem Devlin

Secure On-line mailorder service
Many CDs we review are available from The Listening Post.
Check to see if this CD is available.

The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.