A Review of the Kieron Means CD
"Far As My Eyes Can See"

"Far As My Eyes Can See"
by Kieron Means

Fellside Recordings FECD 195

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 12/05

Following the critical success of his CD “Run Mountain”, Kieron's new CD sees him return to the British-based Fellside label. He has delivered an album that cuts no corners: instead it exudes good taste and integrity.

When I saw Kieron and his mam Sara Grey do a workshop two or three years back, they persuaded me that their music is as relevant today as ever. On getting home from their relaxed session, I was immediately sufficiently enthused as to raid my vinyl collection and dig out my copy of Jean Ritchie's glorious “Clear Waters Remembered”, an album I had once adored, but in truth had not played much in recent years.

Well, what do you know?! Two Ritchie songs are amongst the choicest cuts on this CD. Son and mother really do them justice, and they are joined on the album by Ben Paley on fiddle.

What a name that is! As a one-time huge fan of The New Deal String Band, it's great to see that father Tom Paley's musical genes have been so faithfully passed on to the next generation: albeit, to a son skilled in a different instrument.

Mother Sara and son Kieron have the telepathic musical communication that close family members can sometimes achieve. One senses they will stay working together for some years to come. But should they ever totally split, one just knows that Kieron would MORE than “hack it” as a solo artiste.

I liked this album more than I expected, I think because of the eclectic material. Songs that stood out for me were “Pat Do This” (a version of “Paddy on The Railroad” - an Irish emigration song collected in Virginia in the 1950s by John A. and Alan Lomax); Jean Ritchie's “The L&N Don't Stop Here Any More”; that perennial favourite “The Cuckoo”, and best of all, Barbecue Bob's “Mississippi Heavy Water Blues”.

This song deals with the heavy floods that regularly afflict the Mississippi Delta. And guess what coincidentally came up on my muted TV screen the first time I played it? Yep, you got it in one. Harrowing pictures of the New Orleans “Katrina” floods. You could not ask for a more apposite juxtaposition of sound and picture.

As is Fellside's norm, a most handsome liner booklet accompanies the CD.

And it has black print on a white background! Will other trendier new labels please take heed? Readable liner notes are SO important: I often give up on them, so painful are they to read.

But I won't give up on this CD. It has enough in it to yield up new meanings and nuances for years to come. That is why this is one album that won't find its way to the charity shop, but will stay in my collection.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

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