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Mel Pitts of Shire Folk

reviews The Boatman's Cure by Paul Downes

Paul Downes's solo performances, as well as collaborations with the likes of Phil Beer and Maggie Boyle, have given him an enviable position as a well respected performer on the folk circuit around the world. Guitar and banjo artistry and a clear, full voice are his trademarks and that's just what you get with this new album.
From the start on John Richards" Honour and Praise; we hear why so many people rate Paul so highly. He follows this with his own arrangement of the traditional 'Farewell Nancy; with an unusual but very effective blending of banjo with Gill Redmond's cello and Maggie Boyle's flute in my opinion the best track here. Paul intersperses the collection with a couple of self penned instrumentals, 'Braunton Burrows'and'Lamorna Cove; which are a pointer to his mastery of the guitar and also his West Country roots. Other stand out tracks are Bob Kirkpatrick's 'I Hate the Rain' and Harvey Andrews's 'Unaccompanied (accompanied); both social commentaries on modern life in the USA and Britain; Maggie's brother Kevin's pretty'The Road to Camden Town'; and the traditional cautionary tale'The Poor Old Couple.
There are also contributions from Phil Beer and Jackie Oates on violin, Issy Emeney's melodeon and Keith Kendrick's concertina in a delightful collection of traditional and contemporary songs from a master of his art. If I were to strike one negative note it would be that with both Maggie Boyle and Jackie Oates on hand, it is a shame not to have some harmonies on the vocals.