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Mike Everett of Mardles

reviews Both Shine as One by Ron Taylor & Jeff Gillett

One of the things I do when I receive a CD for review is to look at the track listing. This often gives useful information when the album is by an artist whose name I don't instantly recognise. Looking at the songs on thus album, I immediately wanted to play it and wasn't disappointed.

Ron Taylor has a remarkable voice and, on reading the sleeve notes, I realised that I should have recognised him at once from when he was a member of that wonderful vocal harmony group, Regal Slip. To complement Ron's voice is some beautifully empathic accompaniment by Jeff Gillett on guitar, mandola, mandolin, English concertina and Appalachian dulcimer.

The material will appeal to all lovers of traditional song including a good selection of ballads such as Lisbon and Edward and one particular favourite of mine, Thomas the Rhymer, that doesn't seem to be sung or recorded very much. Three of the songs are in praise of barley (or its best known product), John Barleycorn, All Among The Barley and Adieu, John Barleycorn.

I can think of no better way of reviewing this album than by quoting from the introduction to the liner notes which explain Ron and Jeff's approach to their choice of songs. "The words have to have substance and value in their own right. There needs to be something interesting, striking or unusual to make the song worth singing. The words matter. However, the tune has to be worth singing too. When it comes to the interpretation and arrangement, the song comes first, the singer comes second and the accompaniment comes last. The accompaniment must be sympathetic so that it enhances and does not constrain the song - but that doesn't stop the accompanist from having a really good time and even showing off occasionally (as long as it doesn't get in the way of the song)".

These songs are worth singing and worth listening to. Although most of the songs will be familiar to most folk song enthusiasts, you will be hard pressed to find better versions anywhere. And you won't find better value for money either with this CD lasting over an hour.