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Vic Smith of fRoots

reviews Outway Songster by Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne

This is the best debut album by a young British performer who would sing and play songs and tunes garnered from the tradition for many a day. If Cohen Braithwaite- Kilcoyne continues to develop in the way shown here, and was previously apparent in his work with Granny’s Attic, then he has the aptitude, skill and ability to rise to the top of British folk.

After all that there needs to be something to justify that opinion which is easy, because there is much to like and admire here. There is his instrumental skill on both melodeons and anglo-concertina. When he accompanies himself, he adds interest by what he plays without diverting attention from the development of the song. When he plays dance tunes, he has a neat punchy touch on his squeezeboxes and a fine rhythmic approach which makes him sound as though he is used to playing for dancing, which, of course he is. His concertina playing on two fine, neglected tunes, Harrogate Quadrille/Newcastle Station, shows a high level of technical mastery. The choice of songs shows careful thought, planning and a good deal of research way beyond the obvious and lesser-known versions of big ballads: Edward, Tom The Barber (a variant of Willie o’ Winesbury) and Babylon stand out.

His singing is powerful, his diction is good and he varies his approach according to the needs of the song. The influence of other singers can be heard in places, but that can be said of many emerging singers. The odd vocal mannerism appears in places though only occasionally. A straightforward album with no studio tricks and no accompanying musicians: none needed!