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of Living Tradition

reviews A Kind & Gentle Nature by Ian Bruce

I thought that the quintessential Ian Bruce album would be the unplugged recording he did with Ian McCalman, then I heard this.

This CD finds Ian in the company of Paul Sartin (oboe, violin), Paul Hutchinson (accordion), and Ian Murray (percussion), and what fine company it is.  The band sounds like they have been together forever.  Their playing gives a perfect setting for Ianís voice and his songs.

And what a fine collection of songs these are. Ianís writing has found new dimensions with this collection.  He has developed into a very fine storyteller indeed.  That is not to say that his autobiographical songs are missing.  Indeed, this collection is topped and tailed by two of them, Blue Denim Days his hymn to life as a professional musician, and what it took to get there, and Up There With em, a song about records and making them.

In between these two songs, however, Ian examines alienation, separation, loneliness, childhood and relationships.  In The Rest of the World he is a child discovering life outside the front door for the first time, when moments before he was the estranged parent of Her Daddys Eyes, hoping one day to resume his relationship with his young daughter.

Melody writing has always been one of Ianís strong points, and the eleven songs here are all testament to that with tunes I found myself humming for days. Good songs, good arrangements, good performances, what more can you ask for?  On this showing Ian Bruce is Up There With em, and deservedly so.