Neil Brookes of Shreds & Patches
reviews Life's Eyes by George PapavgerisGeorge Papavgeris has been a busy man over the last few years. As well as an impressively full diary of club and festival bookings this year, he recently released his seventh album (the first with Doug Bailey’s Wildgoose label) of his own songs in just over five years.
Last year I had the pleasant surprise of seeing George at one of the smaller Sidmouth festival venues, and knowing little of his talents at the time, it was quite an eye opener. It is refreshing to see a performer who can hold an audience gently but firmly in his hand by presenting his highly personal songs in such a modest and straightforward manner. On this superb album, George channels his astute observations of various aspects of life in the twenty-first century into 14 fine tracks (plus a surprise treat at the end of the CD), some of which are flavoured with the distinct and delightful essence of his Greek background, either by the melodies themselves or by the vocal decorations that he uses to great effect.
The subjects of George’s compositions range widely from the loss of loved ones in the poignant ‘Regrets’, to problems associated with global conflict, our environment, working lives and even sex change in ‘Toni with an “i”’. He tackles these often difficult subjects with sensitivity, wit and wisdom, whilst retaining a sense of balance and humour. The choice of ‘favourite tracks’ will depend on the individual listener’s circumstances and outlook on life, as every song has its own particular appeal. This CD is one of the most absorbing, moving and simply lovely works that I have heard for a very long time. It is especially worth noting that Vicki Swan and Johnny Dyer provide beautiful instrumental and vocal support throughout, and demonstrate a rare talent in finding exactly the right accompaniment to enhance each musical setting without distracting from the lyrical focal point of the songs. Greek tunes on Scottish smallpipes? – it’s what the instrument was made for!