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Steve Danby of Mardles

reviews Ghosts & Greasepaint by Barry Lister

Barry Lister has been on the folk scene for longer than I can remember. The first time I saw him perform was when he stood in at short notice as the guest at my home folk club in Bodmin. That was about 38 years ago. Barry has always been and still is a superb singer of traditional songs and ballads.


Over the  years he has sung both on his own and with such memorable harmony groups as the Songwainers and Isca Fayre. There have probably been more recent (and current) involvements that I am uninformed about as I had lost touch with the `up country' singer from Exeter. I am, therefore, very pleased to review his new CD, and have the chance to say a few things about a singer from the West Country whom I don't think is that well known to a wider folk audience. To my mind there are folk CDs that are of interest purely as traditional recordings and as a source of material for songs and singing styles. Although very important, the quality of some of these recordings is not good for understandable reasons such as the age of the performers and the recording venue. Then, on the other hand, there are recordings mainly by revival singers and musicians, and from these you expect something different. These to my mind should be well recorded and should be recordings that you can enjoy listening to at home many times over. This demands real quality because what we all enjoy at a live session is a different animal to a professional modern recording. This brings me back to Barry Lister and his CD, Ghosts & Greasepaint. This is certainly a recording that I can enjoy over and over. He is not on his own but has other singers and musicians accompanying him which gives a balance between the 'heavy' ballads.


Barry sings in an easy gentle traditional style with decoration and subtlety. The first track, Young Edwin in the Lowlands, is sung as well as you will hear it sung. Having said what I have said this CD may not appeal to all, but it will to those of you who enjoy `the song'.