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Chris (Yorkie) Bartram of Shreds & Patches

reviews Looking Both Ways by George Papavgeris

George Papavgeris is one of the best songwriters in the English language – and quite a nice singer too. I had the great pleasure of meeting and talking with him at Shrewsbury festival last year. He told me that he had just completed another CD and was very pleased with it. He thought it was the best CD he has made (and he’s made quite a few).

Well, here it is – and he’s right. It is a fabulous collection of the best songs he’s written with wonderful arrangements played by some of the finest musicians on the English folk scene (Paul Sartin, pete Flood, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer with the Tindall family adding backing vocals). There’s a couple of tracks that reflect George’s Greek roots and the accompanists sound utterly authentically Mediterranean.

George writes, in the sleeve-notes, about “observing ourselves from the outside and smiling (lovingly, always lovingly) at our anthropocentric veneer of self-importance”. I think that just about sums it up. As I said in a review of his earlier CD, “He loves life – and writers – and sings – his love”.

But, strangely, I think the best track is one that I wish I’d never heard! It’s a re-recording of his 2002 song, Thieves of Innocence, about children forced to join armed militias “and a lot nearer than you might think”. It is the bleakest song I’ve ever heard. An horrifically truthful summary of aappalling and continuing cruelty. It makes me weep and I think it should be known by everyone – yet, at the same time, I wish it could be forgotten! A truly great song.

There are several other tracks that will certainly become well-known session songs with tgheir catchy tunes and wise words. There’s a lovely song about cross-cultural love and another about neighbours and neighbourliness which George says is, “My answer to the BNP”.

And finally, the CD is dedicated to Johnny Collins who, I think, would have embraced these songs with all his heart and soul. Put it at the top of your shopping list.