In this work Dave has taken as his theme the passage of songs and tunes which have crossed the Atlantic and, at times, returned in a different form to their place of origin. The title, Return Journey speaks of this interaction in what are essentially two different cultures sharing a common language.
The actual songs are delivered in a neutral voice, Dave does not make the mistake of using a fake accent but relies rather on some economical but beautifully understated banjo playing to deliver the otherness of much of the material. The singing is, as always, authoritative and yet manages to inject an edge which some might compare with Cordelias Dad . The tunes, on the other hand are imbued with an accent so strongly American that the authenticity shines through. Pete Cooper is here the perfect choice of fiddler whilst Chris Moreton provides equally understated and authentic guitar. For those who have honed their listening skills on the likes of Hobart Smith and Clyde Davenport (no, he isnt ? in case you were thinking of asking) this compares favourably and the three performers sound as homey as Moms apple pie which is what we should expect from players who have gone to the well to drink. It is the strength of this album that it seeks to do for the transatlantic connection what Songlines earlier this year did with greater resources for the Australian link to our traditions. Return Journey lacks many pretensions and there are moments where, despite good studio engineering, or perhaps because of it, the listener might feel that they are listening to a top quality field recording rather than a revival performance. Paul Davenport
Return journey? In a couple of ways. Firstly, a number of the songs here had their origins in the British Isles, before travelling across to America on the lips, in the fingers, and in the hearts of generations of emigrants, who left these shores in search of a better life, or fame and fortune, or perhaps simply for adventure and freedom.
Secondly, several of the tunes I first heard in Britain suffered a sea change by the time they washed up in the Appalachians.
Dave Arthur has been singing, playing, and researching English and Appalachian music for more years than he cares to remember, and has recorded the music and life stories of traditional musicians on both sides of the Atlantic. For a number of years Dave was on the editorial board of the Folk Music Journal, and for over twenty years edited English Dance and Song Magazine.