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Shipcote hails from Newcastle ( where else?) and has been a stlawart of the music scene in those parts for many a year, both as performer and as promoter. In recent years he has taken to songwriting, too and this is just the latest batch of his songs to make it onto cd. Home recorded ( "at Howard's flat in Wallsend" ) and featuring a whole bunch of Shipcote's musical pals, Shipcote Rides Again brings us the man's own particular take on Americana. This particular collection has something of a sub-tropical air about it, whether it's the voodoo style of Pink Rose, the Mexican border style of It's So Good or the atmosphere of the south seas that comes over from time to time - is that the slack key style I can hear? It's a bizarre image to think of a bunch of Geordies conjuring up all this warmth and sunshine whilst recording in a flat in Wallsend, but conjure it they do and very nicely indeed.
This is really a cd to pick up at a gig whilst the songs are fresh in your head; Shipcote's vocal, as recorded, is way too soft and diffident to make this radio-friendly fare but, even as you're straining a little to catch what he's singing, you're going to be bowled over by the charm of the man's music. He writes songs that are warm, humane and down to earth - and also leavened with a little gentle humour. I hope it's only a matter of time before his songs get picked up by more commercial acts so that he can get the songwriting royalties he deserves. As it is, there's some gentle pleasure to be won from getting to know these songs in their original form. There's some excellent musicianship on this album and although his pals in the band get a namecheck on the sleeve, there's no clue as to who played what. The guitar playing and the banjo playing are really fine but with me being a particular fan of the pedal steel it would be nice to know who it is in England, other than B J Cole, who plays the pedal steel so well. Keep an ear out for Shipcote, anyway, definitely something of a hidden treasure.
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