Dirty Linen - p.85
"While strongly rooted in tradition, the album brings an original slant to songs dealing with roving, oppression, the military, and other themes....Presented with care and originality."
Personnel: Linda Thompson (vocals); Martin Carthy (guitar).
Liner Note Author: Bob Davenport.
Recording information: Panda Sound, Robin Hoods Bay; The Bench, Derbyshire, England; Woodman Recording Studio, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Photographer: John Haxby.
Arrangers: Martin Carthy; Norma Waterson; Bob Davenport.
To describe Bob Davenport's new album as quirky folk doesn't quite do it justice. Yes, the album is, more or less, folk, and the choice of material and performance style is often quirky, but it's presented in a tasteful, professional fashion. With its mixture of instrumentals, a cappella singing, and unusual material, The Common Stone is well conceived, but more importantly, fun. Davenport mischievously segues from a moving rendition of "She Moves Through the Fair" to a halting ragtime version of "You Are My Sunshine" (though both songs are thematically similar, they vary widely in cadence). Repeated motifs include war, untrustworthy men, and whiskey. Perhaps the most bizarre track is a group rendition of Brecht's "Alabama Song," a piece that may be familiar to some listeners from the Doors' first album. It follows a Davenport original, "Wild, Wild Whiskey," a song that warns against a life of strong drink, but nonetheless sounds like a perfect tune for late-night pub singing. Davenport's joined by the cream of Britain's traditional musicians, including Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, and Norma Waterson. It's interesting to note on releases like The Common Stone that Topic, long known for its commitment to traditional British folk, allows its cadre of artists the luxury of experimenting within tradition. That's what makes Davenport's album so much more interesting and listenable than yet another singer committed to repeating exactly what has come before him. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr.