JANET DOWD – 300 Miles (Blue Cow Records)

In much the same way that Mary Black and Maura O’Connell established themselves with their distinctive vocals the same could be said of Janet Dowd whom I first heard on Richard Digance’s Radio Devonfolk programme. Unlike Black and O’Connell however there are no American inflections, just the pure tone of Janet’s vocal that will enamour her to anyone who enjoys an unblemished but spirited performance. Starting with the gorgeous “Dingle Bay” accompanied by an arrangement that would I’m sure have been approved by The Furey’s in their “Sweet Sixteen” days she immediately establishes her credentials with an assured performance that will gain her a legion of octogenarian (for this read BBC Radio 2) fans. The track that originally made me take note of Dowd was the song “John Condon” who was thought to be the youngest soldier to die in the Great War of 1914-1918. Much like Eric Bogle’s epic “Green Fields Of France”, I’m sure this song will be accepted by the ‘folk’ music community in much the same way and it won’t be long before it is utilised by every major artist (maybe it already has) looking for another holy grail? This album showcases Dowd’s obvious talents leaning towards a good ballad including the Northumbrian “The Water Is Wide”, “Loving Hannah” (also covered on the debut album by the afore mentioned Mary Black) and the evocative “Both Sides The Tweed” penned by Dick Gaughan. Rounding things off with the Dixie-Land style brass arrangement on “Wayfaring Stranger” (which I haven’t heard since the heydays of The Seekers!) this lady should be required listening for those that enjoy a good songstress and a must have for festivals in 2011.


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