CHRIS WOOD – Handmade Life (Ruf Records RUFCD012)

For many years I was quite dismissive about Chris Wood who, rightly or wrongly possessed an air of arrogance that I felt was at odds with the general humility of the British ‘folk’ scene. Only recently, from a personal point of view that presumption has turned to haunt me as I listened to him in conversation (with Simon Evans of ‘Kent Folk’) and found that perhaps his self-assuredness was a barrier of my own imagination. I hope so because during that radio conversation the track “Spitfires” was played and I had a feeling that perhaps here we had a young Ralph McTell circa 1971…to me Ralph’s most fruitful period. On reading Wood’s lyrics I feel he comes across as no silver tongued soothsayer just a bloke who wants to get a few things off his chest via the media of song and which he conveys through his music extremely well. There are so many good tracks it would be churlish to single out particular favourites but it’s also worth noting that this is the kind of album that preferably should be listened to with no-one else in the room and a nice glass of red to hand…a real ‘listening’ recording. Added to his own accomplishments as a guitarist of note Chris has surrounded himself with a brace of fine musicians including Barney Morse-Brown (Cello), Robert Jarvis (Trombone), Danny Wood (guitar) and Andy Gangadean on drums to fulfil an album that is characteristically English. Perhaps it’s the resonant tone of the cello in particular that cements the foundation on which the lyric is based bringing the songs vividly to life and for some reason brings to mind memories of Jack Hargeaves ‘Out Of Town’ series. If like me you have recently been ‘Gleed-out’ do yourselves a favour and listen to some ‘real’ music.

PETE FYFE


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