Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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It’s Record Review time again, Kevin Bryan’s weekly look at some of the latest releases.

Carrie Elkin - The Penny Collector (Self released). Elkin’s exquisitely crafted new offering finds the Texas based singer-songwriter coming to terms with her father’s death and her own impending motherhood via a batch of passionate and deeply meaningful songs in the mould of Patty Griffin at her brilliant best. The title of the CD was inspired by Carrie’s late father, who had stashed away seemingly valueless pennies throughout his life, and ended his days as the proud but deeply eccentric custodian of a collection numbering more than 600,000 coins! The bulk of this fine set is populated by intimate gems such as And Then The Birds Came and New Mexico with the notable exception of her elegaic rendition of Paul Simon’s American Tune.

Raphael Doyle - Never Closer (Cooking Vinyl). Ulsterman Doyle was once a member of early 70s acoustic trio Cafe Society, whose main claim to fame was the presence in their ranks of a youthful Tom Robinson. The group essentially gave up the ghost when Tom left the fold in 1976 to pursue a new career as an aspiring punk rocker, and little has been heard from his two cohorts since then. The three musicians joined forces once again a few months ago to help to complete a new Raphael Doyle album before the debiliating effects of Motor Neurone Disease made it impossible for him to complete the project, and Never Closer is the result. The eclectic Ulsterman’s low key fusion of Irish music, blues and r&b dominates a richly rewarding set which also showcases his heartfelt covers of Bob Dylan’s Dream and The Band’s The Shape I’m In.

Paul Crossley - Grieg: Lyric Pieces (CRD). The composition of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces spanned more than three decades, with the first selection of these beautifully economical works being published in 1867 and the last volume finally seeing the light of day in 1901. Paul Crossley’s splendid CRD recital focusses attention on two dozen of these enchanting pieces for solo piano, including Butterfly, To Spring and Grieg’s most famous keyboard creation, Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, which was apparently inspired by the celebrations marking the great Norwegian composer’s own silver wedding in 1892.

Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack - Stan ‘The Man’ Live (Talking Elephant). This criminally under-rated performer may not have had too many brushes with fame and fortune during a career which now spans more than half a century but he still seems content to soldier on regardless. This fine live set from 1995 captures the bluesy singer and guitarist in his natural element, regaling the lucky punters at an uncredited venue with some choice extracts from his illustrious back catalogue alongside visceral revamps of B.B.King’s The Thrill Is Gone and Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well.