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Kath Deighton of Folk Monthly

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

There can't be many folk music lovers who haven't come across Mick Ryan and Paul Downes and marvelled at their musical talents. In recent years Mick has been touring the country to great acclaim with folk musicals A Day's Work, The Voyage, Tanks for the Memory, The Paupers' Path and The Navvy's Wife, all of which were written by him. He has always, however, had a great love of traditional songs and ballads picked up from his many years of visiting and performing in folk clubs.

Paul Downes is a top class musician and plays guitar, five string banjo, tenor banjo and mandolin. He has played in bands, duos, solo and as a session musician, featuring on around 250 albums.

The idea behind this album is to return to those songs which were absorbed during Mick and Paul's formative years at folk clubs, with just four exceptions. The first song on the album Beccles Gates is one of the exceptions, having been acquired recently. The song was written by Mal and Bill Jardine and you are instantly aware of Mick Ryan's clarity of diction and his amazing ability to hold a perfect note longer than seems physically possible! Other non traditional tracks are January Man by Dave Goulder, and Summerwater and When Every Song Was New, both written by Mick, but adapted from remembered words and tune. There is also an original tune Among the Crows and Rooks, written by Paul.

The album has been sensitively recorded and feels close to a live performance. The accompanying musicians are Maggie Boyle on flute, whistle and bodhran, Gill Redmond on cello, Keith Kendrick on concertinas and Tom Leary on fiddle and these enhance without dominating, particularly the flute on You Rambling Boys of Pleasure and the cello on Knife in the Window. The Lass of Maharalee is performed unaccompanied and showcases Mick's voice to the full.

The album notes are interesting, with photos of Mick and Paul through the years. I would heartily recommend this CD, particularly to those who like songs with stories, sung and played brilliantly.