Derek Gifford of Bright Young Folk Live Review
reviews Won't You Come Away by Maggie BoyleI've known for some time both Paul Downes, mainly through his work with Mick Ryan, and Maggie Boyle, through her work with Grace Notes, but it wasn't until we shared a concert at Whitby Folk Week last year that I saw them for the first time as a duo. They were very impressive together so noticing that they were on at the Bothy Folk Club in Southport I took the opportunity to go and enjoy their music once more.
I suppose the date of performance is significant given Maggie's Irish ancestry but, thankfully, they made a point of not doing an Irish night although, of course, a number of lovely Irish songs were featured.
The careful mix of songs and tunes and the inventive arrangements made for two interesting sets which illustrated their great skills vocally and instrumentally. They included many seldom heard but interesting songs too. Singable choruses helped to engage the audience throughout as well.
Maggie's background knowledge of the songs, a feature often sadly ignored by many artistes, added to the enjoyment of them. Also the occasional solo by each of them added to the variety. Maggie's voice to me is different from but very reminiscent of the great Frankie Armstrong.
Paul sang a super American song called 'Boatman's Cure' written by Georgie Ward which was especially memorable. Joe Tilston's (Maggie's son) song based on 'Hole in My Bucket' called 'Lisa & Henry' was very entertaining but an outstanding anti-conflict/war song by Nick Burbridge called 'Old Man's Retreat' was a very different matter. The imaginative writing in this song was stunning and beautifully sung by Maggie.
'Linden Lea' is one of my favourite songs and is brilliantly performed by these two so I was glad they included it in their repertoire. It also provided an English antidote to all the Irish material.
Paul's musicianship (even when he played banjo!) and sharp humour and Maggie's fine singing and flute playing made for a great night illustrating their polished professionalism.
Their encore song 'Camden Town' (Maggie was born in London) written by her elder brother and was good song to finish on with another singable chorus.
It was a real treat to see them both again in a club setting so, if they are appearing in your locality, I can highly recommend that you go and see them.