A Review of the CD
"Distant Dreams"
by Tarneybackle

"Distant Dreams"
by Tarneybackle

Lochshore - 2002
CDLDL 1312

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

This is the second album from a threesome based in Perthshire, Scotland. I had neither encountered their first CD, nor indeed seen them perform, so they were a complete unknown quantity to me. Were they are a pleasant surprise?

Well they certainly started off with a fine opener: the Dougie MacLean song "Feel So Near". And a good job they made of it. Sandy Marshall sings the song like he has ownership of it: one minor criticism of it is the mixing of the track. I understand that John Davidson's whistle has been kept a bit muted in order not to deflect from the vocal, but it could really do with going up a notch or two. (Fortunately, there were to be no further problems on the production front.)

The album is a mixture of familiar ballads (mainly from the Tradition) and songs penned by Sandy and fellow group member John Davidson. I am not sure that this is a good idea, and here's for why.

They seem to have an uncanny ability to know where to go to find a tried-and-tested song that suits them. And don't they deliver them well! They reach their artistic zenith with their version of "The Mermaid": golly they deliver the song with real brio and fine harmonies. Not far behind is their lyrical version of "Tramps and Hawkers".

But all this juxtaposition of fine songs (on the one side) and John and Sandy's own creative output (on the other) does, is put a searching spotlight on the songwriting talents of the two "boys". So how do they fare?

Truth is, not well. I realise the songs mean a lot to the guys personally, and no songwriter wants his own "babies" decried. But, I am equally sure they don't want me to NOT tell them just how I see it. So, brace yourselves chaps.

After listening to each one of them three times, I have to sadly declare they made no impact on me. I could see that they had a certain merit in the lyric department, but melodically the lads seemed to have come up with tunes that forego memorability.

But what the heck! I am just one person, and maybe one with his ears on wrong! If their audience like the songs, THAT is what matters. I wish the album God's speed and a fair wind. There is much here that is of merit.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

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