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Chris Nickson of Sing Out

reviews Pride of the Season by Jack Crawford

Derbyshire singer Crawford has been performing, as both a singer and dancer, for a long time, but this is his recording debut, and the Derbyshire man is a real find, a performer who has power, emotion, technique and scholarship in his arsenal. Although several of the pieces follow on from songs heard from the great Nic Jones, everything Crawford touches on this disc he makes his own, and he's researched them all carefully. Accustomed to singing unaccompanied, he gets ample chance to shine that way, but there's also sparing backing on several cuts, which certainly brings extra texture to the proceedings. A fair bit of the material is pretty much unknown, such as "A Brisk Young Widow," and some is absolutely gorgeous, like "When Fishes Fly" (although the hardhearted tale makes for tough listening). Most of the songs are English, with a deep history, but Scotland, Ireland and even Newfoundland are represented, although, as Crawford notes, "most would comfortably withstand being called English." Kudos to Crawford, who's a magnetic talent, and also to the subtle accompanists, who do a sterling job of underpinning and adding to the material without drawing attention away from Crawford himself. This is a man who deserves to be widely heard and lauded.