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Lonesome Midnight Dream is his third album in recent years for the German label Blind Lemon Records, and is a studio record- ing after two albums of live material. From his bottomless cotton sack of songs David has selected such titles as Tommy Johnson’s Slid- ing Delta and Bye And Bye Blues (learned personally from Tommy Johnson’s brother Mager Johnson), John Hurt’s Louis Collins, Jimmie Rodger’s Waiting For A Train, and Robert Johnson’s version of Walking Blues.


For most tracks David contrasts his raspy vocals with his clear and clean-picked acoustic guitar work but also calls on a few friends to pop into the studio to add a bit of variety. Lise Hanick adds snare drum, harmonica and vocals to a sprightly version of Nobody’s Busi- ness and Tom Shaka provides resophonic gui- tar to When I Lay My Burden Down and man- dolin to Going Up The Country, a number fur- ther enhanced by the harmonica playing of Axel Kustner.


As Tom Shaka says in his booklet intro- duction, “David Evans is… honest, authentic, and totally unpretentious, his music springs from a deep love and knowledge of the blues and its people.”


blindlemonrecords.de Dave Peabody


JOHN DOYLE, JOHN McCUSKER, MICHAEL McGOLDRICK


The Wishing Tree Under One Sky UOSR004


Playing together on and off for more than ten years (usually as McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle) this is – perhaps surprisingly – their first studio album. As anyone who has seen


them playing live, they clearly huygely enjoy playing together, and mesh together in a seamless, no-fuss manner which takes years to perfect and produces an exhilarating ride without flash or apparent effort. One is minded of the old Rolls Royce car salesman’s apocryphal answers to the questions “Just how big is the engine?” (“Quite big enough”) and “What is the top speed?” (“Fast enough to make a rear view mirror totally unnecessary”).


Opening with a classic high-octane set of McCusker and McGoldrick tunes, Doyle then slows things down with a gorgeous version of The Bonny Light Horseman, and the album carries on alternating sets of tunes and songs. Doyle’s rhythmic guitar work provides the perfect foil to McCusker and McGoldrick’s instrumental interplay (which almost reaches sibling telepathy levels). There’s a bunch of their own tunes mixed in with traditional Celtic ones, and John Doyle’s song Burke & Hare, together with Iain McCarthy’s splendid shanty Billy O’Shea, and a delightfully under- stated and wistful Banks Of The Bann to fin- ish. The whole album flows beautifully, with these three consummate musicians at the top of their game just getting on doing what they do best – having a great time singing and playing together. They’re a truly class act with no need to hurry. Just sit back and enjoy the ride with them.


johnmccusker.co.uk Bob Walton MAWKIN


Down Among The Dead Men Mawkin MKN005


Three years have elapsed since Mawkin revealed the up-front and decidedly peppy Ties That Bind. Now after lessons learned sup-


porting Bellowhead at their farewell, you’ll be pleased to know they’re as sprightly as ever and vigorous to the point of dropping.


It takes some chops to dream up items


like Midnight Ranger, a single if ever I heard it, the undeniably catchy chorus and stompalong drive make it the perfect twist of folk’n’frolic, referred to in the waggish sleevenotes as “a mash-up on the raz”. Quite! There’s a gritty, snarling Blind Fiddler, as well as a radically dif- ferent take on My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him, here transported from Silly Sisters to Stranglers territory and far more bitter in its maudlin intent: you could imagine the unsatis- fied maid at the centre of the lyric actually doing her husband in. Oh dear oh, oh dear oh! Equally playful is Diamond Ship with an Eddie & The Hot Rods undertow, sawing fiddle, crushing guitar and drums like thunder; a fan- tastic stop-start mid-section you can see head- ing down the extemporisation road in concert, all bounce and bluster. The tune sets have as much bite as a pack of wolves, Ugly Fish, Cooke’s Wafer are all in-house, whilst Saxon’s Hornpipe/Pretty Girls’ Polka are the result of earnest searching for a pair of trad tunes not yet given electrification and they’re glorious, effervescent and bubbly.


With lots of references to drink through- out, you’re never sure whether they’re pro or anti. It’s actually the title track with allusions to empty bottles, chairs and tables which lets the listener in on what’s been going on… but then they’ll regret it all in the morning. Did- n’t Richard Thompson say that? On the other hand I hope they don’t regret too much because Mawkin have made a five-star album, their confidence in giving tradition some clout and vibrancy fully justified by one of the year’s finest explorations. Count this as essential to 2018.


mawkin.co.uk Simon Jones


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