When I alerted readers of the Mudcat folk forum to my highly personal list of the best folk CDs of 2007, I was introduced by some of the replies to a number of excellent albums that might otherwise have escaped attention.
One of the artists mentioned in the thread was Duncan McFarlane, pictured here with his band.
Subsequently, I received a perfectly reasonable response from him, asking how many records I had actually heard during the year and what criteria guided my choice of CDs to be evaluated.
The answer, during an interesting exchange, was essentially a reiteration of the nature of the "best of 2007" project, namely that I am a fan who happens to have a platform.
Whether I offer criticism or praise, my opinion is not necessarily any more valuable than that of any other listener.
How many albums do I get to hear in a year? Well, even when I was working as a professional critic, it was only a part-time commitment and I had to rely on the albums sent to me by record companies, agents, public relations people or the artists themselves. Rightly or wrongly, I felt I was well enough known as a folk writer to expect people involved in the music to work out that it was probably worth sending review copies my way.
Living in France, as I did until recently, I was perhaps even more dependent on those contacts than when I was still in the UK.
But my list was never intended, in any case, to be more than a guide to one man's preferences.
Fortunately, I am now fully acquainted with the 2007 albums by Duncan McFarlane's band, Ruth Notman (who was first mentioned to me by Kate Rusby), Wendy Arrowsmith and Steve Ashley.
My reviews have been delayed by a recent holiday and return to work last week in the Middle East, but will appear - in two parts - at Salut! Live before this weekend is out. Inshallah.