JOHN DOYLE – Shadow And Light (Compass Records 4562)

John Doyle may, at first hearing appear an earnest, thought provoking artist but at least he cannot be accused of being dull. By that I mean he understands that with extensive knowledge of your subject matter you have in your hands the tools to inspire and in return will hopefully have the same effect on anyone you are imparting this information to. If that is his intention he has certainly found a disciple. Evocative is a term that readily comes to mind as his rounded tenor vocals coupled with a song-writing talent featured on ten of the eleven tracks sees him become a Celtic ambassador of traditional style writing in much the same way Jez Lowe invokes nostalgic thoughts of the North-East of England. If you’re reading into this that I thoroughly enjoyed this album then I’ve done my job. Whether it be the rallying cry of “Clear The Way” based on the tale of a regiment during the American Civil War or the cheese inspired (you’ll have to read the sleeve notes) closing song “Selkie” Doyle is an artist at the top of his tree allowing himself the opportunity to branch out (sorry about that) by including of a roster of first-class musicians such as Alison Brown (banjo), Michael McGoldrick (uillean pipes/flute) and John Williams (accordion). Of course many who already know his superb digital dexterity can attest to his stunning guitar accompaniment but here his tune writing particularly on the wistful “Tribute To Donal Ward/The Currachman” comes majestically to life and could easily find itself soaked sponge-like into numerous traditional ‘sessions’.

PETE FYFE

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