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Jacqueline Patten of EDS

reviews When Every Song was New by Mick Ryan and Paul Downes

Mick Ryan and Paul Downes are wellestablished and respected performers in the sphere of traditional music. Noted for their song-writing and arrangements, their fine voices and, in Paul’s case, instrumental skills, they are familiar names throughout the country.
Their ability to engage audiences through their professional, yet relaxed, approach, and their influence on younger performers, as well as contemporaries, is far-reaching. It is, therefore, interesting to consider what influenced them and from where they drew inspiration. With this album they return to the songs which were ‘absorbed’ from the folk scene during their formative years. Of the fourteen tracks, nine are ‘Trad. arr Downes & Ryan’. For a number of these, the source is attributed to floor singers in the folk clubs around Swindon and Exmouth where they developed their interest in traditional music. The Swindon Folk Club run by Ted and Ivy Poole, and The Jolly Porter, Exeter, with particular reference to Tony Rose, were regular venues attended. Mick was near Swindon, Paul in Exmouth. Several of these songs can be found in The Penguin Book of English Songs, for example ‘One Night As I Lay On My Bed’ and ‘The Lover’s Ghost’. It was a common source for songs at the time.
The tracks that are not ‘Trad’ are Dave Goulder’s ‘January Man’, which epitomises the folk songs of this country so well that it is deserves to be included alongside the songs found in The Penguin Book;
‘Beccles Gates’ a recent addition to the repertoire, written by Mal Jardine and his father, Bill; ‘The Old Jig Jog’ pieced together from a song by Banjo Patterson, plus two by Mick and an instrumental by Paul. The album is of their usual high standard. It underlines the rich heritage found in this country.