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Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest

reviews The Passing Hour by Mick Ryan & Paul Downes

This is the fourth album from these two fine performers. It opens with The Midshipman's Boast from the writing of Helen North at Faversham Folk Club and sets the high standard by which these two are renowned. The majority of the tracks however, come from the imaginative writing of Mick. Thankful Village is one such which illustrates the horrors of war even for those that survive. The Parson and the Pig is written in a lighter mode while The Fowler is another serious statement about life and death in an earlier time. One Day is a powerful anti-war song and the driving rythym of The Sea underlies this song from Mick's folk opera The Voyage. Old Swine completes the album nicely in frivolous mode with some natty banjo accompaniment from Paul.

Other notable tracks include a brilliant rendition of Tom Lewis's superb All At Sea and the traditional Song of Repentance which brings out Mick's Irish heritage!
Another song from the tradition, Bartholamew (sic!) Fair lilts along beautifully with the help of Paul's guitar and Jackie Oates viola as accompaniment. On other selected tracks Jackie adds vocals, Kate Riaz cello and Martyn Bradley concertina. Throughout the album Paul plays guitar accompaniments that are truly inspiring and adds excellent harmonies to the chorus songs.

Another truly enjoyable album from these two seasoned performers.