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American folk singer-songwriter legend Bill Staines after 45 years in the business could be forgiven for taking it easy. But there is little chance there! He is still touring and as seen here making fine records as the stories continue to ebb from his pen. Staines’ vocals are warm and steady as they come and though his music on occasions a little uneventful he’s still capable of holding my attention for 45 minutes or so.
The reason for my negativity could be his over use of piano and organ (over acoustic guitar) and how the songs on which most used, melancholy. A little low key for my palate but may well suit yours. Whatever, Staines’ songs plus those from others included are as ever beyond just interesting. For apart from writing them he knows a good song when he hears it! Of which ‘Shady Grove’ (Lee Ann Brown and Pierce Pettis) as in Bill’s liner notes is a new song, lyrically and melodically but it still holds on to the feeling of the original (very much so), traditional piece. ‘The French Girl’ likewise is an imported song. Only it isn’t a new song but dates back to 1966 and the singing of Canadian duo Ian & Sylvia, an imagery-strewn affair with piano (Stains) and fiddle (Oisin Luddecke) to the fore.
Staines’ even tones are best heard on ‘Along The Road’, a sprightly affair that dances along to the sound of mandolin and acoustic guitar. Closely followed in the stakes you have his one and only Christmas song, ‘A Christmas Lullaby’ plus there is the beautifully arranged ‘Symphony Of Gold’.
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