JUN 03 - Friday 13th Folk Club, Harrogate "Live"
This duo has emerged from nowhere as a fully formed unit. The pooling of their respective experience has enabled them to create a sense of ensemble of a standard normally apparent only after years of playing together. Tom Bliss writes songs that should become classics: the strong tunes are matched by wide ranging subjects drawn from a wonderful mixture of experience and imagination. The ultimate example of this is The Violin: from an incident where a violin is bought by a man for a young relative (Tom Bliss being the young man in question) he has constructed a beautifully imaginative history of that instrument told in the first person by the instrument. If this song doesn't move you don't tell your next partner that you have romantic side as he or she will soon realise it's not true. Tom has an excellent voice, and can convey the emotional content of a song with that ring of conviction that really holds your attention. He also plays such an array of different instruments that he can never fit them all in on any one gig!
'What of the other Tom'? I hear you ask. Just a bloomin' banjo player! You know all the jokes, but then so does he, with a sense of humour like his they can't hurt him. The banter between these two musicians makes for a very relaxed and entertaining stage show, where humour has its place but never compromises the integrity of the songs. Tom Napper's musical prowess makes a really powerful contribution to the duo's sound. By this I am not talking about his instrumental virtuosity despite it being clearly evident. This aspect of his playing is entirely subservient to the musicality of the arrangements. He knows the value of the songs and every note he plays both supports and enhances them. He sings well, plays several instruments, produces excellent arrangements of great subtlety. Subtlety? Banjo player? This is where the joke stereotype really takes a day off.
Buy the CD by all means, but for goodness sake don't miss out on seeing them live. They are a class act, make no mistake about it.
Ray Black Friday 13th Folk Club
(This has appeared in various forms in various publications)