Gone a little quiet
Salut!: Live tonight in Barnsley and beyond

The year so far (4)

My decision to sack the Daily Telegraph (almost exactly a year after it fired me, if you know what I mean) means that I have only a couple more album reviews to mention in the Salut! Live series The Year So Far. Read on to find those reviews which I have decided to reproduce in full and precisely as written rather than as an extract of the post-editing published version.

I have greatly enjoyed writing about folk music, and occasionally folk's offshoots, over the past two decades. At the fRoots and UK Music Folk discussion forums, one or two people have remarked kindly on my efforts.

But I leave for my new job in Abu Dhabi this weekend and this is an appointment that has offered an obvious cut-off point. As I have already mentioned here, my review of Fairport Convention's remastered Liege and Lief CD was clearly the right moment to call it a day.

It is not, however, my album of the year. Just possibly, something else will crop up in the two-and-a-half months that remain, but it will have to be truly exceptional to dislodge Prodigal Son by the magnificent Martin Simpson (pictured above by David Angel) from its current place at the top of my list.

And as promised Salut! Live lives on. I will post as often as my new work allows. When albums reach me, I shall review as many of them as I can. I will continue to offer reminiscences, conduct interviews across our shrinking world and comment on developments in music that capture my attention.

Back to those last two Telegraph reviews:

Sept 15 Talitha MacKenzie Indian Summer (Sonas Multimedia)

Armed with self-taught Gaelic and granny's belief in Hebridean family roots, a native New Yorker with passions for languages and culture heads for Scotland. She marries a MacKenzie but retains a raging thirst for ethnical adventure.

That is the Talitha MacKenzie story in synopsis. Indian Summer has nothing to do with the sunshine Britain spent July and August longing for, but reflects her vast knowledge of native American lore.

MacKenzie sings regally, whether giving new meaning - in Cherokee - to the tired old hymn Amazing Grace, challenging the dubious murder conviction of the Lakotan activist Leonard Peltier (Wind Chases the Sun) or sounding almost the all-American girl on Family Tree. Her remarkable record packs boundless range, and writing and performance skills to match the scholarly clout.

Sept 22 Fairport Convention Liege and Lief Deluxe Edition (Universal)

On a glorious summery evening in a field in Oxfordshire, the five men who arguably created the greatest folk-rock album of all time reassembled, 40 years on , to play it through once more at the Cropredy festival.

In the company of Richard Thompson, Dave Swarbrick and the rest, it fell to Chris While to fill the biggest boots in the land, belonging to the ghost of Sandy Denny. She did it magnificently, but digital remastering of the original brings a searing reminder of just how mighty a talent was lost when Denny died in 1978. F rom the haunting Farewell Farewell to the medieval frolics and bloodbath of Matty Groves, the music is familiar. But with enhanced clarity and sharpness, all hint of age vanishes. It is as fresh as if recorded yesterday, bonus tracks add Denny's fabulous version of The Ballad of East Rider and it's frankly unbeatable.

It is only human, surely, to add that if you are encouraged by anything I have said to buy Prodigal Son or Liege and Lief via the links on Salut! Live - I cannot locate Talitha's CD on Amazon as yet - you will pay an awful lot less than if you choose the purchasing method published with Telegraph reviews.


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