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Oz Hardwick of R2

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

Mick Ryan and Paul Downes were, the sleeve notes tell us, born in the same year. As for what year that was, they're keeping schtum. On this excellent release, however, they're revisiting their teens to dust off a selection of songs mostly learned through the process of osmosis in folk clubs. The resulting selection makes for an enthralling set of songs, many familiar, others less so.
Ryan has one of those, deep, polished voices that commands the attention, whether it's on the wryly confessional 'Limbo' or the broadside 'Georgie Barnwell'. Each song is given its own head, presented with a commanding lack of fuss. In Downes he has a perfect accompanist, with some particularly engaging five string banjo on the supernatural 'Summerwater' and the
aforementioned 'Limbo'.

'Summerwater' is one of the few deviations from the overall backwardslooking theme of the album, being a Ryan original. Another is the title track, a nostalgic reminiscence of first discovering the tradition, which I have already heard in the repertoires of club floor singers. And so the wheel turns.

December 2013