A Kind & Gentle Nature

by Ian Bruce

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Modern folk songs: male vocals, guitar, oboe, violin, accordion, percussion. Remastered in Spring 2000.

This album of modern folk songs by Ian Bruce also features the talents of Paul Sartin (oboe, violin) and Paul Hutchinson (accordion) from Belshazzars Feast as well as those of Ian Murray on percussion. Honest and often sad lyrics are accompanied by some fine musicianship. From the first track Blue Denim Days, an up-beat song about being on the road, to the final Up There with Em with its delicious irony, there isnt a duff track among them. Rewind and play it again, and I still cant find one I dont like. Her Daddys Eyes could be mawkish if it didnt hurt so much. and Mind of a Child starts out being a nice song but finishes with a knockout punch.

Blue Denim Days
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Lincoln and My Brothers
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Her Daddys Eyes
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The Rest of the World
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Speakin Free
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All or Nothing
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Me and My Home
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Lonely Old Lady
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Mind of a Child
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I Can t Sit Still
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Up There With Em
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Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

`A Kind and Gentle Nature illustrates clearly the progression that Ian has made over the years and is definitely, on his own admission, a 60s and 70s influenced album. On this one he is ably accompanied by Paul Sartin on oboe and violin and Paul Hutchinson on accordion. However, I didnt enjoy this CD as much as the previous one but then that has more to do with my personal taste because I can assure you that the quality of writing, both lyrically and musically, is at least as good as his earlier work. Perhaps my reservations are because Ian has, I think, moved further from the folk idiom in the later album. Even so there are some tracks which I found particularly appealing including `Lonely Old Lady and `The Mind of a Child. Ians self parody in `Im Up There With `Em is another good song and a fitting finale to the album. Essential additions to all Ian Bruce fans and worth a listen to those who like their folk in a contemporary style.

Living Tradition

I thought that the quintessential Ian Bruce album would be the unplugged recording he did with Ian McCalman, then I heard this.

This CD finds Ian in the company of Paul Sartin (oboe, violin), Paul Hutchinson (accordion), and Ian Murray (percussion), and what fine company it is.  The band sounds like they have been together forever.  Their playing gives a perfect setting for Ian's voice and his songs.

And what a fine collection of songs these are. Ian's writing has found new dimensions with this collection.  He has developed into a very fine storyteller indeed.  That is not to say that his autobiographical songs are missing.  Indeed, this collection is topped and tailed by two of them, Blue Denim Days his hymn to life as a professional musician, and what it took to get there, and Up There With em, a song about records and making them.

In between these two songs, however, Ian examines alienation, separation, loneliness, childhood and relationships.  In The Rest of the World he is a child discovering life outside the front door for the first time, when moments before he was the estranged parent of Her Daddys Eyes, hoping one day to resume his relationship with his young daughter.

Melody writing has always been one of Ian's strong points, and the eleven songs here are all testament to that with tunes I found myself humming for days. Good songs, good arrangements, good performances, what more can you ask for?  On this showing Ian Bruce is Up There With em, and deservedly so.