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Dr Nerd of Dirty Linen - Dr. Nerdís column

reviews The Widow's Promise by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris

Mr. Nerds beaker really runneth over with CDs this time out, so no more time for chit-chat. Probably my favorite of this batch is The Widows Promise [Wild Goose Studios Terr CD 0011 (1998)] by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris. I must admit, it was a little odd to come across a CD with a quotation from my writings on the cover, especially when I was sure I hadnt seen the disc before. But a quick look explained all: This CD is compiled from two cassette albums, one of which, Another Place, Another Time, I reviewed in this column back in April/May 1997 issue of Dirty Linen. At that time, I was impressed with several songs, including Ryans originals The Man I Killed and The Widow (renamed The Widows Promise on the CD), as well as a traditional gypsy version of Poor Old Horse Happily for me, these songs are all included on this disc, as are a few other choice cuts from Another Place, Another Time. The rest of the CD is made up of tracks from Drink Up the Sun, including fine and moving versions of classic traditional ballads like Bonny Light Horseman, Salisbury Plain and Adieu Adieu, as well as a few more originals. Ryan has got a really fine, sweet voice reminiscent in places of Martin Carthy (British Mag Folk Roots called him the most underrated singer in The country), and Harris backs him up in style on guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, mandola, banjo, bass and whistle-quite an arsenal for one player. The resulting sound is full, but not overblown, perfect for the songs. Any complaints, you ask? I have but one: With two albums to choose material from, they might have found another song or two to in include. Still, at its current length, its a fine disc indeed.