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Mike TurnbullMike Turnbull
Album: ...In So Small A Compass
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 12

Mike Turnbull is a singer songwriter based in the Lake District. His debut album, "In So Small a Compass", is firmly rooted in the landscapes of the UK. It's inspired by the writings of Gavin Maxwell and the "Ring Of Bright Water" trilogy, a reference point I'm familiar with both from the books and the wonderful film.

From that starting point Turnbull (Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola) surrounds himself with excellent musicians such as Lukas Drinkwater ( Bass, Electric Guitar and Banjo), Evan Carson (Bodhran) and Ciaran Algar on violin. As a group, you couldn't ask for better and the music definitely shines.

So to the opener, "Seek Thy Brother", we are immediately greeted by a familiar children's chant that morphs into a plea for a solitary bird to find another. More joy than sorrow then. Keep the dark away from me. Mike's expressive vocal carries the song perfectly.

Things are not always as they seem though. The "Boat Thief Song" contains no robber unless you choose to count a bunch of adolescent kids stealing time whilst joyfully messing about on the water. Drinkwater's bass bobbles along and Algar's fiddle laps at the shore. A feel good song.

"Between Breaths" a walk in the Lake District depicted in song, the things we miss and sometimes take for granted. It's an effective call to stroll, to take in nature, to find the beauty in our surroundings and the environment.

"Edge Of The Map", would you sail off the end of the world if it was flat? Would you feel the fear? In Mike's hands it's full steam ahead. Conquer your demons is the message.

Messages of love, dreams of the future, the adventure continues as long as you are with me. "Seabirds' Call" a love song wrapped up in an imagined year sailing on the seas.

History is reimagined and made personal in "Heart Shaped Wood" and "Sycamore Gap", the latter referring to the iconic tree that sits in a dip in Hadrian's Wall and was featured in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves".

"Shells & the Stars" is a visit to the setting of Maxwell's books. That moment when you instinctively feel at one with a location. When you feel at home. A perfect place to rest.

"Mr Raven" explores an imperfect resting place, the Black Death. A Doctor, with a beak full of herbs to protect from the miasma, poking bodies with a stick to check for life. Seen through the eyes of a survivor.

In conclusion, "In So Small a Compass" is an album of finely crafted songs that get stronger with each subsequent play. If you appreciate the likes of Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys, Goats Don't Shave and Seth Lakeman then in Mike Turnbull you'll find a kindred soul.

There's much in So Small a Compass.

Ian Cripps