Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards – Live in Manitoba

Album Review | Nobody’s Favourite Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

This album is a document of acoustic intimate house concerts, recorded in Manitoba, Canada in October 2017. House concerts because Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards are captured, relaxed chatter and all, in homes and small community spaces. Originally from the US and now a phenomena in the UK, they prove to paraphrase The Field Of Dreams, even if you don’t build it the music still comes. The pair playing guitar, harmonica, ukulele, clarinet, penny whistle and bass with two strong voices deliver fine songs with a couple of covers. Both have a good strong Americana or Folk voices, especially when you consider these are acoustic performances, the mikes are to record not amplify. Mark and Raianne also harmonise well around each other on tracks like “Hand I Hold” and “Grain by Grain.” The pair push the duo format hard, with some quick changes, so Raianne’s earthy clarinet accompanies Mark’s guitar picking and harmonica. Stripped back there is a vitality, an integrity and a beauty in their performances. “Walls” by Tom Petty, pared back to two fine voices, guitar and uke of mandolin, is revealed to be a delicate love song and a real diamond. “One More Song” features emotional vocals and a perfect stripped back performance. The track and the rest of the album reminded me of hearing that cassette live album Home and Away by Clive Gregson and Christine Collister in the mid 80s, both feature fine twined vocals and spare accompaniment while capturing something real. Among songs like “If Someone Will Come With Me I’ll Go” and “As Long As It Takes”, are some very strong folk songs powerfully performed. After an album with very ‘Neil Young’ harmonica blowing through it, the set ends with a credible cover of his “Unknown Legend.” Resonant guitar to the fore, great duo vocals on a small town, back roads anthem, perfect for small spaces performances.