Various Artists – Folk Delivering Hope

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

It was a moment of inspiration when folk DJ Tony Hitchcock of Sine FM pointed out to fundraising co-ordinator Eileen Myles of the AHS Foundation, that with such an array of talent due to play at a forthcoming Doncaster charity concert in aid of earthquake victims in Kashmir, there must be an opportunity to compile a fund raising CD to bring in much needed additional funds.  With Jez Lowe, Clive Gregson, Ray Hearne, Steve Womack and Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts already on board for the concert, the potential for an interesting CD was almost certainly on the cards.  Four of the five acts mentioned above contribute a couple of tracks each to this compilation with further contributions from Sam Baker, John Tams, Martyn Joseph and Peter Dilley, all donating a slice of their music free of charge.  The Folk Delivering Hope collection was born out of desire to create a limited edition souvenir for those who attended the concert, which took place on 15 November in Doncaster.  Listening to the CD in the car every day since the concert, I’ve personally found it highly listenable and not like the usual rushed release compilations for other such worthy causes.   Ray Hearne’s poignant poem “Dark of Heartness” is included here, read by Stephen Gill, whose reading was used as a soundtrack to a short film made especially for the concert at the Regent Hotel.  A slight technical hitch made it impossible to show the film on that occasion, but fortunately the author was on hand to read it out personally.  Ray also contributes two songs from his long awaited follow up to the Broad Street Ballads album.  The Wrong Sunshine provides an insight into what Ray Hearne is all about and two of those songs are provided here as a taster.  “Manvers Island Bound” is a delightful song of hope derived from an unlikely source, that of a roundabout in the middle of an industrial estate in Wath-upon-Dearne.  There’s not many writers who could make such an anthemic song out of such an ordinary setting, but that’s the thing about Ray, he manages to divert your attention from the mundane to the beautiful with his words and his songs and along with “Things to Say”, a song that sets out Ray’s statement of intent in no uncertain terms, we see a writer and performer at his peak.  Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts contribute a couple of tracks from their debut album Shadows and Half Light, Katriona’s haunting “Hunter Man” and the inventive instrumental piece “Skip and Jump”, which showcases the duo’s musical dexterity.  Katriona and Jamie are already being tipped by some for the prestigious BBC Horizon Award in 2010, a notion that would certainly get my vote.  Jez Lowe is no stranger to offering his help and support to good causes and has generously contributed two excellent songs for the collection, “A Long Walk Home” and “Bait Up”, both of which clearly represent the songwriter’s writing credentials.  If Jez represents the North East of England on this CD, then Martyn Joseph represents Wales and contributes “Have an Angel Walk With Her”, one of the most beautiful ballads from his recent retrospective album Evolved, which contains re-recordings of some of his best work.  The one representative not from these shores is Texan Sam Baker, whose sublime “Broken Fingers”, which opens the collection, sets the mood for the rest of the album to follow.  At the concert, Steve Womack sent his audience home after a side-splitting set, full of humour and peppered with songs from the likes of The Beatles, Lindisfarne and Paul Simon.  His contribution to this CD however is a couple of songs from his own pen, the beautiful “Matthew” recorded live with full band just over the road from the Regent coincidentally enough, at the Civic Theatre as well as “All Saints Day” from his album Turn the Other Cheek.  Closing this collection is an instrumental by Peter Dilley, a young songwriter from County Durham, who is currently studying at Leeds University.  Taken from his debut album Said and Done, “Jack’s Song” offers a reflective guitar piece to close the album.  Funds from the sale of this CD will help the AHS Foundation to deliver hope to the people of Noon Bagla and the surrounding area by providing, equipping and maintaining a Health Centre to service the medical needs of up to 12,000 people still recovering from the devastating Pakistan earthquake of 2005.