Folk music is broad and diverse, and the distance that exists between folk club floor singers and festival headlining bands is vast. But it’s all folk music and it is all a valid part of the tradition.
David Kidman’s album is an offering from the end of the spectrum that is often under-represented outside folk clubs. David is, first and foremost, a lover of folk music and the folk tradition. You’ll find him singing from the floor at folk clubs, listening to the music of others in the tradition, and writing for various publications.
This album is raw. It’s raw, traditional storytelling. In an era of studio produced folk music it captures the essence of the floor singer. This isn’t studio recorded, multitracked or heavily polished. It’s just David singing into a microphone (presumably not in a professional-studio) and taken for what it is it’s good to hear these songs sung from their roots, adorned with nothing more than emotion.
I don’t think David would mind me saying that it’s not “perfect” but David’s singing is perfectly good enough to hold my attention for the duration of a good song worth singing. Perfection isn’t want you look for in folk clubs; what you look for are people who love the songs, love the tradition, and aren’t afraid to stand up, open their lungs, and wear their heart on their sleeve. It’s not an easy thing to do.
There are songs on this album that I’ve heard dozens of times… but these recordings where the first time I’d really “listened” to some of the songs despite having heard them repeatedly. Others were entirely new to me, which makes this album a lovely discovery.
Favourites for me were “Mandalay", "Coal not Dole", and "A penny for the ploughboys". The stronger style of singing suited David’s voice, for me, better than the softer ballads – but, as already mentioned, David Kidman’s version of Beeswing has resulted in me listening to the lyrics of the song more than I ever have before.
With 16 tracks and a 75 minute of playing time David has been extremely generous, in its own way this CD is a valuable addition to any folk collection.
This album serves as a reminder: the folk world is open to all those who would like to be part of it. Whether you’re a professional musician or an aspiring amateur, young or old, immensely knowledgeable or totally new to the tradition - there is a place for all of us and our diversity.
Ange Hardy & Rob Swan
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