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WINTER WILSON - Milestones

WINTER WILSON - Milestones
Private Label  WWCD05

Next year will mark ten years since Dave Carter died.  And folkies in America will continue to lament his far-too-early passing from a heart attack.  And they will continue to pine for a new duo that could fill the shoes of Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer.

Well they should pine no more.

For all these years since the hottest duo on the American scene was so cruelly broken up, across The Pond in Lincolnshire, England, there was a superb English duo, slowly making their understated way to some degree of prominence on the UK scene.

Winter Wilson consist of Kip Winter and Dave Wilson.  Milestones is their fifth album, and possibly their best to date.  They seem to improve with the years.  Their vocal harmonies just ooze certainty: and Dave’s thrilling guitar work is just as authoritative.   And thus those Carter & Grammer fans looking for a “same sound” match, need look no further.

Whether they’d find that our British “Dave” is a songwriter of the same quality, is a more moot point.  I would argue, that at his best, he is the greater writer: however, his work is not as consistent.  As evinced here, in this slightly uneven album.  So, preamble over, let’s get down to business with this review.

There is a song on this CD that our American friends would go crazy for, if only they could get to hear it, and it could be given wings to cross the ocean. (As it might well do, if previous champions of his work like Vin Garbutt and John Tams will do the carrying!)  I refer to an extraordinary song called What Mothers Do: a song universal in its sentiment of getting unwilling children off to school, despite containing the occasional British vernacular word like snap and chuffin’.

The delivery of this little gem is quite beautifully judged, and Kip’s voice on the chorus just speaks to the heart.  (Just listen to them sing the word “knows” together in the last line of the chorus: the frisson you’ll get from that alone, is worth the price of this record!    That and the wonderfully atmospheric flute break from Kip in this number.  It is a veritable song-and-three-quarters!  And it is the clear high-water mark of an album that runs the gamut from combat-stressed Tommies fighting Afghans (those last 2 words are mine, and decidedly not Dave’s!), to rope-making in 18th century Lincolnshire.  

And they include a rather good song called Millstones Or Milestones: a song that questions the significance and nature of passing time, but ends up optimistic and not fearful of the years ahead.  A song that, despite accepting that time accelerates, and in a way ends up cheating us all, still sees happiness at the end of the road.  Despite the grey hair and the artificial knee referred to in the lyric.

It is the first song I have heard in a long while that makes me think of that great line of John Denver:  It turns me on to think of growing old.  Mind you, The Milky Bar Kid evidently changed his mind and deliberately (? ?)
… [yes, Dai, yes: be brave, forget the question-mark!] flew his plane into the sea.

But JD’s mind-change apart, I ain’t changing my mind re this CD.   This album shows that Winter Wilson are, as I said, always seriously good performers. And also occasionally, Dave can write a seriously good – indeed, quite brilliant - song.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.