Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Yep, here 'tis, the one to prove that all those words of praise Cross Rhythms have printed about Cheltenham's finest folkies are not hype. For here the band finally deliver an album which shines with the glow of dues-paying, brings into focus all the rich potential of contemporising English folk music, and which captures all the sweat, drive and passion of their live concerts. 'Smilingly Home' couldn't fail to do the latter of course as this is a live album, cut in their hometown during the last concert of their Vinegar And Brown Paper tour. And quite an historic gig it was for you got two mandolin players for the price of one, the band's superlative Neill Forrest (now off to pastures new) and the team's new picker Charlie Ingram. I suppose there might be some Edenites who, when they scan the sleeve, will feel a tad disappointed at so many familiar songs (there are two songs from Thin Walls', three from 'Much More Than Near' and five from 'Vinegar And Brown Paper'). But many of these live versions leave the studio cuts for dead. There are one or two glitches - Paul Northup's singing is gruff, gutsy and moving on most tracks but on "If I Go Up" his pitching is way out (shame, producer Dave Pick could have dumped the track - the playing time is a generous 50mins 22 sees). Also, the band's version of the Waterboys' "Medicine Bow", though a favourite with the crowd, doesn't do anything for this reviewer. But overall, this is a delicious, romping delight from that opener "There Was A Time" to the engaging "Feel The Rain" closer.
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