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Paul Rawcliffe of EFDSS

reviews The Boatman's Cure by Paul Downes

It is always great to see a seasoned musician still ploughing their way in the music world and for Paul Downes this is extra true. Paul has played folk music for most of his life so anyone picking up an album of his can expect the highest of quality. The Boatman’s Cure is a prime example, but surprisingly is only his fifth solo album.

Twelve tracks led by Paul, his guitar and his strong vocals but backed by a talented team of supporters with well-known names such as Jackie Oates and Phil Beer. The tunes chosen are a good mix of sea songs and well-known traditional songs giving the listener a powerful sense of Paul’s experience and wisdom in the folk music world. ‘Farewell Nancy’ for example is sung effortlessly and with confidence that adds to the relaxing atmosphere already being provided by the backing music. Other classics like ‘The Broken-Down Gentleman’ make a good revival with Paul’s unique take on the song. ‘Braunton Burrows’ and ‘Lamorna Cove’ are fine instrumental tracks displaying his guitar skills. ‘The Old Man’s Retreat’ is a sad tale that gives us a glimpse of how good a storyteller Paul is, and although it’s a skill that can be learned, it also takes a large portion of natural talent. ‘The Boatman’s Cure’ is also a story, but much more fun and lively, displaying a mix of abilities. As well as serious and sad there is also jolly and amusing, as with ‘The Poor Old Couple’ and ‘I Hate the Rain’.

The album is a wonderful display of variety and finishes on a high note with ‘Unaccompanied’ starring the banjo, fiddle and vocals that plays one last foot-tapping song as a dessert.