GARRY BLAKELEY – ROSE BLAKELEY – The Ceremony Of May (Attitude Records CD-007)

OK, I know nepotism isn’t a nice thing but when the artist I am reviewing just happens to be my best mate in a professional and personal sense and a damn fine fiddle player to boot then I think I should be forgiven this one transgression. As well as part of our established duo Band Of Two, Gaz has many other strings to his bow and has recently completed a project he has been working on for some time called The Ceremony Of May. In collaboration with his wife Rose (who wrote the lyrics and poems), Jane Downes (the narrator), Edd Blakeley (Garry’s son) plus Hugh Crabtree (melodeon) and Tom Leary (additional fiddle) from Feast Of Fiddles, he has created a gem that only the ‘folk’ world could produce much like Ashley Hutching’s “The Complete Dancing Master” before it. The disk is festooned with great melodies each of which I could see at home as ‘session’ tunes particularly the opening track “Dawn Awakening” and the distinctly traditional Morris-sounding medley “Sunrise/A New Day Begins”. For those who enjoy their folk-rock with a bit of bite there are the dramatic “The Green Man” and “Bogies-of-the-Green” both of which possess fine anthem like qualities in the tradition of rallying calls for England and St George. Balancing the light and shade of the music there’s a more acoustic approach taken on the evocative song “Farewell To Winter” which I’m sure will prove a winner with those who enjoy their music Radio 2 friendly and the narrative carried throughout by the animated tones of Jane Downes (also established as ‘the caller’ for The Catsfield Steamers) is a delight that will appeal to anyone who listens to Radio 4. This is the kind of album that is hard to pigeon-hole as it crosses categories of the ‘arts’ scene but you can rest assured if you’re looking for something challenging but ultimately fulfilling this will definitely be the album for you. PETE FYFE

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