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David Kidman of David Kidman

reviews Something to Show by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris

For their follow-up to The Long Road, Mick and Pete present another enticing mixture of traditional songs and original compositions - the latter largely by Mick himself. And as usual, the songs present exactly the mix of repertoire youd expect to hear at the quality end of the English folk club circuit, and are delivered in the customary accomplished manner weve come to expect from this pairing. Ive already sung Micks praises (as it were) on this site - hes quite simply one of the finest singers on the folk scene, possessing one of the most accomplished, enthralling and involving baritone voices I know; hes one of the most versatile too, being able to communicate a songs message equally effectively and directly on deeply serious and altogether lighter material. Pete not only delivers some fine vocal harmonies but also provides the perfect instrumental foil for Micks voice with his expert and stylish playing (guitar, bouzouki, whistle, mandolin, mandola, bass, percussion - suitably multitracked where necessary, but never unduly cluttering the texture); the skills of Paul Burgess (fiddle), Paul Sartin (oboe) and Tim Van Eyken (melodeon) are also used sparingly throughout the CD. The CDs title track provides the albums emotional core; inspired by a 1980s TV documentary, its a poignant personal reflection from the perspective of one of the young Irish labourers digging the new tunnels for Londons Jubilee line tube. Its bookended by Micks setting of the Thomas Hood poem Faithless Sally Brown and the pattersome piece of homespun Essex pub philosophy Work, Work, Whens It Gonna Stop? Another standout track is The Last Of England, which Graham Moore wrote for his folk opera of that name; based on a Ford Madox Brown painting, it concerns a young emigrant couple looking wistfully back from their ship to their homeland. Elsewhere Mick demonstrates his knack for reinterpreting English ballad tales (with the Hammer horror creation of King Kaley, one of four tracks which are perfo