A Review of the Leon Rosselson CD
"A Proper State"

"A Proper State"
by Leon Rosselson

Copyright 2008
Fuse Records CFCD 024

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 5/08

Most reviewers that I've met, review one work at a time. If they have, say, three books to review, they don't read them simultaneously, i.e. switching books at the end of every chapter.

And so it is with CDs. One gives oneself totally to the CD, but one album at a time.

I tell you this, because it is a fact that has a strange relevance to this review. For the previous CD I reviewed before this, was that rare thing, an absolute gem: “Not In Our Name”, a compilation album with proceeds going to the “Stop The War Coalition”.

And because half the artistes featured were stellar names on the UK Folk scene, I decided – for “space limitation” reasons – to concentrate my review on the equally solid contributions from the other less-celebrated half who mainly hailed from overseas. Fair enough, you might say (given that I write from a UK perspective). But no, such a policy gave me moments of serious doubt. Not least, in the case of perhaps the most stellar of all the names on that compilation, Leon Rosselson.

You see, his song on that anti Iraq War CD – “General Lockjaw Briefs The Troops As Reported By A Sceptical Soldier” - was one of the strongest of the lot. And I thought I really must make mention of it. But then I thought, no: for once I do this, the floodgates will open and I will need to talk about the other contributions from all the famous UK artistes, and it will end up being in length, less like a review and more like St Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians. And more than that, here is the clincher: I thought I will not mention Leon's marvellous song because I have 11 more coming up on the next CD I am due to review. And I can pay him the maximum respect he deserves then.

Ha! How wrong that thinking of mine was! It just goes to show that when you as a reviewer have something you can praise to the heavens (like that track) then you should seize the moment! For you don't know with any degree of certainty just how long it will be before you can enthuse over that same artiste's work again.

So, have you guessed what my next sentence is going to be? (Yes of course you have.)

The truth is that there is nothing much to enthuse over in this entire album. Sure it was worth the listening, but when you consider how great a writer – and I believe vastly underrated performer to boot - Rosselson is, somehow one expected more. Talking of “more”: there were actually 12 tracks. One of the rummest bonus tracks I can ever recall.

Good contributions from Miranda Sykes on bass help give this album the gravitas that normally a Rosselson album is not in need of, since they usually have that quality in spades.

Uniquely for a Leon Rosselson album, I cannot imagine a single song here being adopted by floor singers in your average folk club. Well, at a push, perhaps “The Ghost of George Brassens” might. This paean to the great chansonnier was by some measure the best song on the CD. So acceptable in fact that I can imagine Brassens' biggest UK fan - the late Jake Thackray - approving, and adding it to his repertoire up there in the Celestial Heights.

Dai Woosnam

Grimsby, England

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