STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 160093-23658 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £7.99
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
For me, listening to this album was like re-making contact with two old friends with whom I'd lost contact. I've never met Stephen Sproat but back in the '90s and early 2000s I enjoyed the albums and singles that flowed from his Scottish base. The second "old friend" is engineer/producer David Pickering Pick responsible for the successful Eden Burning albums from way back and now running the ffg studios in Worcestershire. David ensures there is plenty of organic warmth and deft musicianship throughout 'Fruit For The Soul'. In recent years the flow of Mr Sproat's recordings dried up as the songsmith found an unexpected niche in writing big selling ukulele teaching manuals which no doubt you will today find in many a UK classroom now that educationalists have abandoned the recorder and made the uke their instrument of choice. In fact it's not until track three here that a uke comes into earshot on the wistful mid-tempo "Let's Go Walking". By then the listener has already been drawn in by two excellent opening tracks one of which sounds like a song of thanks from a returning prodigal ("Lord I have found my soul again/Where I belong, where I feel strong") and the other "Line To The Shore" featuring some delicious guitar fills from Corey Gaffney-Smith who, my computer tells me, is a member of the Gloucestershire alt-pop band Canary Swing. Another accompanist worthy of name-checking is Paul Crump whose elegant, classical piano is a perfect backing for the ballad "Watersmeet". Many of these songs bear repeated listening with carefully considered arrangements which bring out the best of them, so that this is the kind of album which will reward all those looking for music that doesn't clamber to be cool but communicates truth and sincerity with consummate skill. Deep speaks to deep.
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