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Clive Pownceby of Tradition

reviews Songs from the Derbyshire Coast by Keith Kendrick

Keith Kendrick has always enjoyed a certain prestige around in?the?know circles whether as a band member of, among others, The Druids (seminal outfit whose two Argo vinyl albums form part of my fall-back eBay-based pension scheme), Ram's Bottom, Tup, or East Kent Hoppers. His status as a pioneer is surely a given, and more recently he's been all at sea as part of trio, Three Sheets To The Wind as well as filling in the few odd moments in his diary with duos involving Lynne Heraud or Sylvia Needham.

This solo album for Wildgoose sees him in rude health, with a set of mainly traditional, partly maritime slanted material now and then augmented by a stellar cast that includes Lynne and Sylvia and elegant Derbyshire combo Cross O'the Hands.

The fulsome liner notes which namecheck the likes of Martin Carthy, Bert Lloyd, Helen Schneyer, Graeme Miles, and Sam Larner give a good idea where our boy is coming from; but whether a cappella or accompanied by his own concertina or guitar, Kendrick shows a talent for more than just arrangement.

The opening Bold Rlley is among the best of these revisits, tuneful and with a true zest that gets up and goes to work with a vengeance. Elsewhere Keith shows himself an authoritative vocalist, with trademark warm timbre, able to project emotion without over?emoting. Lowlands Of Holland is as relevant as ever in the current international climate ?a heartfelt understatement of the human anguish that warfare brings and leaves in its wake. An intense reading of The Sailor's Prayer contrasts nicely with an unusually chipper version of Beulah Land, both concerning victory through adversity. Added to the mix are tune sets, which include the bright and bouncy Turkish Quickstep, plus the wholehearted shanties which are all rounded up and brought into the fold by the closing Awake Arise Good Christians from the 'people's' carolling tradition of the Sheffield area.

You want variety? You've got it.
A passionate, poised album, capable of brightening the dullest of days, and evidence of a genuine talent.