A Review of the CD
"Pray For Rain"
by Andrew White

"Pray For Rain"
by Andrew White

Vertical ar Records - 2002
(VERT CD 056)

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 6/03

At last I have finally caught up with the work of Andrew White. I was aware of his growing reputation, but until this review copy arrived on my desk, I was unable to "put a voice" to the name. But now with this his debut VOCAL album, he will be able to increase his fan base from those who had been fortunate to see him open for Capercaillie on two national tours.

A friend of mine who saw him perform on one of those tours tells me that he has "talent to burn" and exudes a "real stage presence". This may well be the case, and I look forward to seeing him at a festival somewhere. But for the moment I have just this CD to go by. And let me say at the outset, there is much in this CD that has real merit.

First, White's gentle, light tenor voice (another voice straight out of the Nick Drake voice factory). Then there is his own not-inconsiderable talent as a guitarist; and add to that a stellar list of musicians to assist on the album (best-known perhaps would be Michael McGoldrick on wooden flutes and uillean pipes and Karen Matheson giving vocal support). The other musicians also perform admirably, helping give vital chiaroscuro to the self-penned songs. Add to this, a classy production, right down to the CD liner notes.

But all that said, I feel compelled to say that I wish I could have liked it a whole lot more. In the end, the songs did not "do it" for me. Not that there was anything particularly WRONG with them: but neither was there anything especially RIGHT.

I see a critic in "The Scotsman" has called his songs "tautly worded". Well yes, that certainly is the case. But "taut" is a word to apply to ropes, facial expressions, and even telegrams, but is not necessarily such a glowing adjective when applied to song lyrics. One looks for real "individuality" in these songs, but alas one doesn't find it.

For instance, take track 9, "Holy Island". Now those of you reading this who are not domiciled in Britain may not know this island off the Northumberland coast. It is the most atmospheric and special of places. Thus, I awaited the track with heightened expectation. Alas, neither lyric nor melody could deliver. And this went for most of the other tracks too, though melodically, now and then a track hinted at possible

But my misgivings apart, it is clear that "Pray For Rain" will delight listeners more interested in a gentle plaintive voice and fine musicianship, rather than listening to songs that grab you and take you inside them.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

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