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LUKE DANIELS - Old Friends And Exhausted Enemies 

LUKE DANIELS - Old Friends And Exhausted Enemies 
Wren Records WREN019 

Luke Daniels has an admirably diverse CV: winner of the 1994 Young Tradition Folk Award as a melodeon player, then over two decades of experience as musician, composer and songwriter, with a refreshingly unpredictable, albeit bewildering variety of CD releases ranging from his own songs (including a whole album inspired by children’s folk rhymes) to classical-style arrangements of traditional Irish tunes, and original new music written for the polyphon (a 19th century music-box)!

Luke’s latest project takes another direction entirely, being an exploration of, and tribute to, English poets from the past seven centuries whose work has inspired him on his personal journey through life thus far. It readily jettisons potential preconceptions by delivering not direct, literal settings of the actual poetry, but instead producing reworkings, an uncanny kind of collaboration between Luke and the poets, who in effect act as both a sounding board and starting-point for exploration of a particular theme or idea. This unique collusion of text and ideas often involves conjoining a single song out of lines or phrases from different poets, and it’s a tribute to Luke’s assured technique, and overall creativity, that disparate texts from different eras can feel so credibly and almost seamlessly wedded, united by their thoughts and implications. He also draws respectfully and knowledgeably on folk music history and tradition. The musical binding-together of Luke’s reimaginings is achieved by deft and warmly expressive (acoustic guitar) playing from Luke himself, with various friends bringing cello, cittern, oud, gu-zheng and percussion to the mix. No space to highlight individual tracks, but I’d recommend immersion in the convincing alchemy of the whole project.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine