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Colin Cater of Mardles

reviews Pride of the Season by Jack Crawford

Tremendous. On the evidence of this album, Doug Bailey at WildGoose has discovered a new star in the folk firmament. In an age in which new talent is all too frequently female, breathy and short on life experience with which to interpret songs, Jackís dark brown mellifluity, often echoing the more reflective side of Cyril Tawney is a joy.

Supported by Mary and Anahata on some tracks, he is simply a brilliant interpreter of melody, able to draw out the most delicate nuances of tunes and vary interpretation to fit the subtlest scansion of words. Listen particularly to Suit of Grey and Valiant Sailor, a gorgeous version of Polly on the Shore. Neither does his singing lack strength as Bold Dragoon, Annan Water and several others show clearly.

Youíll have to listen, mind you and be prepared to ride a slow wagon, but thatís all right in these hasty days, innit? You also need to throw away any delusions about the unlettered working classness of folk songs - the poetís touch is very evident in many of these offerings. My only qualm came listening to When Fishes Fly, a nasty little song dressed up in a pretty coat that perhaps Jack might have interpreted with a bit more edge.

Jack Crawford has been round the folk scene for a long time, playing with Jabberwocky and Plum Jerkum and illuminating the singarounds without being noticed by festival organisers. Hopefully this will now change and next summer he will be seen in the more reflective parts of a number of festivals. King gooden.