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Flos Headford of Shreds & Patches

reviews The Island of Apples by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris

This duo must the folk scene's most inexplicable secret. Nobody can better their performance; their choice of material and their own compositions are peerless; Pete's accompaniments are in a class of their own. I can't understand why they aren't booked at every festival of the year.


For decades they've been hard at it. Fortunately, we can buy their work on CD, and this one is a pearl. If you look for handsome voices telling meaningful tales to memorable tunes, try this album. Most of the lyrics are by Mick (and he has such wonderful shows to his name ? A Tolpuddle Man, A Day's Work, The Voyage, Tanks for the Memory, The Navvy's Wife) with most of the arrangements credited to Pete.


The feel is very traditional on one track, The Banks of the Bann, but is mostly a demonstration of what most 'contemporary' folk artists aim at (almost always failing dismally, in my opinion). Many of the songs are deeply moving, so I found it particularly apt that the work closes with The Song Goes on, written by Mick in memory of Cyril Tawney. This is an anthem of joy and sadness combined, and rounds off the album perfectly.