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Andy Turner of EDS

reviews Heirlooms by Chris Sarjeant

If, like me, you have not previously encountered Chris Sarjeant, you will almost certainly be familiar with the guests who accompany him on this debut CD, since these include Jackie Oates, Vicki Swan, Jonny Dyer, Issey Emeney, Keith Kendrick and Pete Flood. In fact, Chris was pretty much brought up on this music – his parents, Derek and Hazel Sarjeant, were both performers, and ran a folk club for many years. After training as a classical pianist, he has now returned to folk music, and several of the (mainly traditional) pieces here come from his parents’ repertoire – or, failing that, their record collection.

He has a pleasant singing voice which somehow put me in mind of a more ‘polite’ Chris Wood. His highly accomplished guitar style is also not too dissimilar to Chris’s, although that’s probably just because they’ve both been subject to the same sort of influences. He freely admits in the CD notes that he has been influenced by performers such as Martin Carthy and Nic Jones – and, I’d guess, Martin Simpson too. But while he’s clearly a product of the folk revival, I wouldn’t like to imply that he is a mere copyist – he has stamped his own personality on these songs and tunes. And, despite the list of well-known guest performers, it’s very much his album: the guests are there to enhance the accompaniments, not steal the show. In fact, if anything, there were places where I wished they had been brought a bit further forward in the mix.

The first time I listened to this record, I found myself thinking ‘it’s pretty good, but there’s no killer track.’ But then I discovered he had saved it till near the end, in the shape of a lovely vocal duet with Jackie Oates on ‘Bay of Biscay’. I’m glad we don’t have to award stars with EDS reviews, but if we did, this track would immediately have earned the CD an extra star.