MAR 03 - Tradition Magazine (East Anglia) "The Silverlode"
I just love this CD from start to finish. Tom Napper and Tom Bliss are both from Leeds, and have only been working together since spring 2002. They are both in bands, TN with The Idle Road, and TB with Slide (UK), but they fit together as if they've been a duo for years! On most CDs there is normally a tune or song that does nothing for me, but I just didn't find one here. The CD is a mix of traditional and new songs (mainly written by Tom Bliss) between which I found it impossible to tell the difference. The two Toms mainly use guitars, mandolins, banjo and mandocello, with the very occasional addition of fiddle, which gives the whole CD a slightly relaxed and gentle feel, giving you a chance to really hear and contemplate the words of each song. The first track 'The Silverlode of Sark' tells the story of finding silver in Sark, recruiting Cornish miners, shipping the ore to Hull - which are all true, but the catastrophic flood which ends the story is pure fiction; just goes to show that even the most interesting history can be somewhat elaborated. I found it almost impossible to choose a favourite track. It could be 'Poor Labourers,' a traditional song sung to a Gordon Tyrell tune, highlighting the plight of your everyday humble peasant, or possibly The Violin, Tom Bliss's song in tribute to his fiddle - once again mainly fiction but a great song nonetheless. The CD has a couple of songs then a tune every now and again to break it up, which balances well with the choice of songs. It's great to hear Celtic music without a fiddle as in 'The High Part of the Road/Creel of Turf/The Castle' which sound great on tenor banjo, tenor guitar and guitar. I particularly enjoyed the restrained delicacy of 'Miss Hamilton' written by Cornelius Lyons, harper to the Earl of Antrim, played on octave mandolin and mandocello. For those of us who like to be sure of the lyrics they are available on www.napperbliss.co.uk along with details of gigs and other interesting information. All in all a great CD I just cannot get bored with.
Justine Salmon. Tradition