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Paul Burgess of The Living Tradition

reviews Ghosts & Greasepaint by Barry Lister

Barry Who? This may be the question you ask when looking at the photo of an elegant gentleman with a trim white beard.


If you don't know ﷓ shame on you! During the last few summers I have heard headlining acts who can't hold a candle to the quality of voice and performance on display here. So why isn't he getting the same sort of acclaim? Well he's not a youngster, has no gimmicks or backing from laptop computers ﷓ what instruments he chooses as accompaniment on a few of his songs are firmly rooted in the tradition ﷓ the restrained melodeon of Ed Rennie and the lyrical fiddle and viola of Jackie Oates (a Wintersette) ﷓ or other unaccompanied voices.


From his theatrical background this singer has an unerring grasp of two components vital to successful performance: how to pace a song and how to tell a story. His mastery of these abilities is shown here in abundance, but with none of the flash or showiness that sometimes comes with the greasepaint.


The material is well varied, mostly classic stuff rubbing shoulders with a couple of more unusual numbers and this helps to give the album the solidity that comes with first﷓class material being performed by a first﷓class singer. Hopefully his involvement with running the song concerts at the Bedford during Sidmouth Folk Week will bring him to wider notice ﷓ as should this CD.


Barry Lister has been singing this sort of material longer than most, in groups such as Isca Fayre (check out the LP photo!), Hollinmore and the Songwainers, but I think this is his first solo outing, so salutations to WildGoose for yet another gem.