A Review of the Keith Kendrick CD
"Well Seasoned"

"Well Seasoned"
by Keith Kendrick

Copyright: WildGoose Studios 2003
(WildGoose Records WGS 317 CD)

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 4/04

Keith hails from Derbyshire in the East Midlands of England, and has been around the UK folk scene for several decades now. To say he has “been around” is rather damning with faint praise: for the truth is he is something of a singer's singer. But, in another sense the “been around” phrase is wholly apposite: for the fact is that he has never quite achieved the Carthy/Garbutt/Gaughan stardom he deserves…despite various incarnations and pairings.

And here we have something of a “This Is Your Life” album: he is joined by some celebrated ex-colleagues. They are mostly stalwarts of the British folk scene, and some splendid ensemble singing ensures that just about every chorus catches fire!

The liner notes ­ in keeping with the high standards set in this department by WildGoose Records ­ more than pass muster, but I could have done with initials of who exactly is singing on each track…instead of just the overall list of personnel. That said though, admittedly I could usually tell. However, for a non-Brit buying this album a continent or two away, it would probably be a puzzle.

The voice is as English and as sturdy as a five-bar gate. Had Hitler crossed the great North Sea in 1940, we would not have needed any marching songs to repel him: it strikes me that the Keith Kendrick solo voice - so redolent of the BACKBONE of old Albion - booming out from Dover Castle would have been enough to make Mr. Schicklgruber think twice!

But it is not all FORTISSIMO. Kendrick is capable of tenderness and surprising lightness of touch: a really intelligent and insightful approach to the lyric of the traditional “The Grey Cock and the Lover's Ghost” is proof of such.

His talents also run to composition: the tune he has written to the traditional words of “Derwent May Carol” seems inventive and non-derivative. And his concertina playing is exemplary: as someone who struggled in vain with the instrument for the best part of a year, there is nothing I enjoy more than some fine concertina playing…and “The Nutley Waltz” (traditional) which segues into his own tune “Doug's Maggot” absolutely made me purr with pleasure.

The songs are mainly English, rather than British, and a mix of the traditional and the contemporary. I have mentioned that there are a celebrated cast of accompanying musicians/singers, but I have omitted to add that one person's presence dominates this album, although she is not present in the cast.

That person is Jo Freya. You see, this CD is born out of The Calendar Tour that Kendrick and Freya presented to the UK Folk Scene some 5-6 years ago. He acknowledges his debt to her for “your vast contribution to the original concept of this collection”.

Any minus points? No, not really. If I was to REALLY scrape the bottom of the barrel, I would perhaps alight on the liner notes for track 13. “The Gaspè Reel” is attributed to “Huddy Leadbeater” (sic). Those two names contain not one, but three, spelling errors! Not just the usual “Lead” for “Led” (even esteemed reference books that should know better make that one), but also the first name and the second syllable of the surname. You might say that Keith has scored a “full house” here with “Huddie Ledbetter”, aka “Leadbelly”.

But this is a mere piffling complaint set against this wholly satisfactory album. You could easily spend the £13 this CD costs here in Britain on a myriad albums containing just two or three tracks that really cut the mustard. Much better you purchase nearly an hour's solid entertainment from a performer in Keith Kendrick whose watchword has always seemed to be “never knowingly fail to DELIVER the goods”. Buy it in Europe from www.musikfolk.com or in North America from www.elderly.com and, for other points of the compass, get details from Doug Bailey at WildGoose (e-mail: doug.bailey@wildgoose.co.uk website:www.wildgoose.co.uk)

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

Track List:

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