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Ian Croft of RnR

reviews The Passing Hour by Mick Ryan & Paul Downes

Mick Ryan is undoubtedly one of the best, possibly the most underrated, songwriter on the folk scene today. The Passing Hour is the fourth release by his duo with ace guitarist Paul Downes, and includes his own material plus some covers and traditional songs, too. It's all performed in a clear and uncluttered fashion with Mick's warm, rich tones and Paul's singular accompaniment on guitar, banjo and piano, helped along by friends on viola, cello and concertina.

Mick's songs manage to pin down issues with economy, clarity and sensitivity, as in 'Thankful Village', which reflects local gratitude when soldiers returned alive from the Great War, despite mental and physical scars. 'One Day' serves as an anthem to the one and only day of peace in the world since World War II.

On the other side to his writing, Mick creates nimble and witty lines in two songs about pigs, one of which, 'Oh! Swine!', details how all parts of the pig can be eaten: 'all that's unused is his squeak'. Three covers and three traditional songs are excellent, and not well known, and they fit neatly alongside Mick's own stuff. It's another great album by Mick Ryan and Paul Downes. Recommended!

**** 4 star