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Mary Humphreys of Mardles

reviews Life's Eyes by George Papavgeris

Those of you who know George's work will have been amazed at his ability to write songs about anything and everything about the modern world - family, friends, politics, global warming, love, death. This CD carries on these great themes and surpasses all previous offerings in composition and performance. Some of these songs will creep into the tradition, I am sure.

On Life's Eyes he is joined by two consummate musicians well known to us in East Anglia - Vicki Swann and Jonny Dyer - who provide luscious accompaniment for George's distinctive voice whilst allowing the words to shine through. You wouldn't want to miss anything in these lyrics. They are the essence of the songs, although the tunes - mainly composed by George - make the initial impact.

George is Greek by birth, though he lived in many countries during the course of his day-job. He lives in the UK with his English wife Vanessa. Some of his family live in Australia and he has delighted audiences in the US, Oz and Europe. The influences on his songwriting and singing are therefore multi-national. His roots show very strongly in his use of Greek dance rhythms in Tsamiko ( Dance of the Old Men) and we even have a bonus track of George singing in Greek a translation of his lyrics for Rebetiko.

George has almost single-handedly restored parents as a theme for songs. Not wicked step-mothers or severe and domineering fathers, but people to be loved and respected, celebrated and mourned in some of the most touching lyrics you will hear in song-writing today. He can turn his hand to writing about life's effect on the harrassed and striven city whiz-kid who does not even notice the beggar at his feet or care too much about the goings-on in the world around him. This is effectively portrayed musically by having three separate voices weaving in and out yet never singing the same words. Very clever! Vicki has her solo singing debut on this track. More please!

I don't know how the Scottish smallpipes and guitar can transform themselves into a Greek band of tsambouna and bouzouki, but somehow they do under the watchful eye of Doug Bailey at WildGoose. As ever the recording is first class and the artwork ( by Hilary Bix who runs the Bideford Folk Club and festival - see ad) is beautiful and eye-catching.

If you have never bought a George Papavgeris CD before, then this is the one to go for. Hurry, before they all sell out!