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David Kidman of fRoots

reviews Something to Show by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris

For their fifth duo album, Mick and Pete present another enticing mixture of traditional songs and original compositions?the latter largely by Mick. 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. Mick possesses the enviable ability to totally involve the listener in his singing, and his impressive breath control and use of vocal shading are distinctive features, whether hes tackling deeply serious or 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 multi?tracked where necessary, but never unduly cluttering the texture); the skills of Paul Burgess, Paul Sartin and Tim Van Eyken are also used sparingly.
The CDs title track provides the albums emotional core: a poignant reflection from the perspective of one of the young Irish labourers digging a new London tube tunnel. Another standout track is The Last Of England, which Graham Moore wrote for his folk opera of that name. Elsewhere Mick demonstrates his knack for reinterpreting English ballad tales (with the Hammer horror creation of King Kaley, one of four unaccompanied tracks) and his unerring ability to pick worthy but less often essayed traditional songs to sing. The best of these is probably The Two Brethren, which comes from the singing of The Copper Family. Its neatly counterpointed by Micks own Sons Of The Land, one of two songs here which the duo have re?recorded for this CD (like the stirring anthem The Prince Of Peace, it originates from Micks earlier folk musical A Days Work, which remains obstinately unavailable on CD). The album may spring no surprises in the sense that Mick and Pete continue to give their all in a professionally