Not exactly a folkie anymore (all the songs on this album are originals) but still leaning well to the "folk" side of the folk-rock divide, singer/songwriter Steve Ashley still writes a great song and his originals can sometimes pass for traditional ballads. His strongest moments on Time & Tide are actually his least trad-sounding, though: the album opens softly but powerfully with "The North West Wind," on which gorgeously arranged strings support a breezy but sad melody and gently affectionate lyrics (that hint at something slightly sinister below the surface), and on which Ashley's aging and frankly rather weak voice is showcased at its best. The same is true of a sweet and heartfelt tribute to his late grandfather titled "Down the Line." Perhaps best of all is the humorous faux-Latin groove of "Pub Carpets," which features one of the most charmingly cheesy synthesized horn sounds committed to tape since the '80s. Like many graduates of the '60s folk scene, however, he does have a tendency to get tiresome on political topics; "A Better Day" is one of the most ham-handed political songs written in recent memory, and it features one of the worst couplets ever written in favor of multiculturalism: "The pasta meets the pickle jar/The bhuna meets the bagel." (The tribute to his union-organizer grandfather is both much more gentle and much more effective.) Recommended overall. ~ Rick Anderson
95240MSteve Ashley - Time & Tide (CD)http://oldies.scdn5.secure.raxcdn.com/i/boxart/large/05/69/714822056922.jpg?v=415.9813.78USDInStock/Genre/Folk-Music/Music Categories/Rock-and-Pop-British-Folk-RockTopic RecordsCDFolk-MusicSteve-Ashley2008-09-18
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