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JUL 03 - Traditional Music Maker "The Silverlode"

Tom Napper is a name that might ring a bell with folksters who remember his duties with fiddlin' Tom McConville - who turns up here with his silken bow as a guest on the pertinently " Violin," and Gordon Tyrrall in Dab Hand. Elsewhere it's all Napper and Bliss on various stringed things, members of the mandolin family and the odd guitar or banjo, playing a mix of Bliss originals and trad. arr. Their playing is light and frolicsome on the jigs, tongue in cheek with the 'crack' - no, not the drug, but the atmosphere - laden ballads or stately where a bit of heavier duty is called for. The production is right between the eyes, instant, because as they rightly reckon the songs and drive are more important than any technicalities. Not that this is lo-fi in the least, the levels are right up there and clear. Overall the album reminded me of Bob Fox and Stu Luckley at their best, a kind of rolling, good time approach with decent songs, a care for what they sing, yet enough edge and humour to never take themselves or their audience too seriously. Their harmonies are right on and important to some cuts like " Poor Labourers, " and "The Blue Cockade." Bliss is a canny writer, his songs rooted and soaked in lore and history, hence the title track, it's actually true, silver was mined on Sark! Sounds crazy I know, but the song isn't, you can hear them roaring the refrain in folk clubs as you listen. All in rather good, unplugged stuff. Like it like that and this is your ticket. www.napperbliss.co.uk is the site to check.

Simon Jones Traditional Music Maker

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