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Ian Croft of RnR

reviews Roam the Country Through by Jeff Warner

Jeff Warner is a leading performer of American traditional music, with a simple performance style that combines a warm, characterful voice with unshowy expertise on banjo, guitar or concertina. On Roam The Country Through he's helped from time to time by Ben Paley's fiddle and Alice Jones on backing vocals, harmonium, piano and whistle. The result is an authentic sound that is applied to seventeen songs taken from a range of sources including Jeff's parents, song collectors Anne and Frank Warner.

A high standard is set from the start. A lively 'Jordan Is A Hard Road To Travel' is propelled by Ben's sparky fiddle, and then the wonderfully anthemic 'Beautiful Life' is underpinned by great harmonium from Alice. Several songs are variants of songs also collected in Britain 'A Frog He Went A Courting' is from Kentucky, 'Gypsum Davey' was collected by Sharp in Tennessee, 'Roving Peddler' is a version of 'The Roving Journeyman'.

There are stories of cowboys, gold prospecting, logging and trains. And Jeff gets right to the essence of familiar songs like 'My Dixie Darling', once sung by The Carter Family, and 'Tenting Tonight', a song covered by many.

Put together it's a cracking record, full of really good American songs sung and played with verve and much skill.