DAVID CAMBRIDGE – Songtales (own label DC001CD)

SongtalesDavid Cambridge’s story is a familiar one. He had a serious, responsible job, ran a folk club as a student, played guitar and sang and, having escaped the nine-to-five, he found that music took over. He also builds guitars, by the way, and Songtales is his debut album. Now, you might be lured into thinking that this is a vanity project recorded very basically in his shed but you couldn’t be more wrong.

For one thing, the album was produced by Ben Savage who also plays guitar and David’s guests – used sparingly – are Evan Carson, cellist Anna Scott and Saul Bailey on melodeon with backing vocals from Hannah Sanders and his musical partner, Jenna Walker. The arrangements allow David to perform the songs live on stage with just his guitar although, having heard Songtales, you would miss the delicacy and sometimes ethereal beauty of the accompaniments.

Unless you’re very young you won’t find any real surprises but I’d like to think that you might hear the lovely ‘Too Close To The Wind’ for the first time and be moved to find out more about Stuart Marson. David betrays his affection for Fairport Convention several times also including Huw Williams’ wistful ‘Summer Before The War’ and ‘She Moved Through The Fair’. The opening cut is a stomping take on ‘Sir Patrick Spens’ followed by Mike Waterson’s blues-tinged version of ‘Rocking The Cradle’. He gives us a world-weary reading of ‘Monday Morning’ followed by one song I hadn’t heard before, the euphemistic ‘Little Grey Hawk’- it’s good to know that there is always something new to be discovered.

Affection for Nic Jones is displayed with ‘Isle Of France’ and ‘Billy Don’t You Weep For Me’ – the latter never gets old. I wasn’t actually looking forward to the closing ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ but David’s acoustic guitar arrangement is stunningly good: the lyrics are still off-the-wall but we’ll let them go. This is a very fine album and I got quite nostalgic in places. Songtales may be a debut but it’s built on years of experience and it shows.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.cambridgeandwalker.com

You’ll find videos and sound files firmly embedded in David’s website from which I cannot wrench then free.