John Cee Stannard – Folk Roots Revisited

Album Review | Cast Iron Recordings | Review by Allan Wilkinson

It’s with some sadness that this review comes shortly after the passing of John Stannard, who died on 18 March 2020, yet it also seems fitting that we’ve been given this opportunity to pay tribute in our small way.  The cover artwork for Folk Roots Revisited may jog a few memories, to those who remember the folk outfit Tudor Lodge back in the early 1970s, or those rabid LP collectors who search fruitlessly for the band’s incredibly rare eponymous debut, which was at the time treated to a memorable die-cut six panel sleeve by the band’s high profile record company, Vertigo, whose swirly monochrome label is still a sight for sore eyes.  Phil Duffy’s caricature drawing of John can be seen on this early record sleeve, which has now been replicated for this release.

Under the name John Cee Stannard, the musician has up until recently remained a regular name on the blues music scene, yet this timely addition to John’s recorded output takes the singer songwriter right back to his original musical roots, featuring a dozen songs new and old.  One or two of the songs were written decades ago, in fact around the time of the Tudor Lodge record, “Lovely Day” and “If Only She Was Here” among them.  There’s an immediate sense that this album was intended as John’s swansong,  a sense of looking back over the years, notably with the inclusion of a song called “I See a Boy”, which could be seen as a companion piece to “I See a Man”, a song that appeared on the earlier album.  Some of the songs were written during a song writing course run by Kathryn Williams in Totleigh Barton in Devon, the final one, “The Last Time”, being a moving ode to his wife.  If “The Last Time” could be seen as prophetic, then so could “The Ferryman”, which sees John reaching out for his final guide and therefore becoming a fitting epitaph.  Sleep well John.

Choice Track: Silver Chalice (NSV 499)