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NOTES FROM AN ISLAND (Gilded Lily Records/Planet)


Blair Dunlop doesn’t advertise it but his father, Ashley Hutchings, was one of the most influential musicians in the English folk boom of the 1960s and 1970s, being instrumental in creating both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. Given such a pedigree it is hardly surprising that Dunlop is an outstanding guitarist and an emotionally persuasive singer. He is also, as demonstrated on this fourth album, a sharply intelligent songwriter who understands how folk can be enriched by tasteful rock and pop instrumentation. Not only does this collection of 12 songs range widely over themes of exotic internationalism (Spices from the EastCobalt Blue even references Melbourne, Victoria and Australian cobalt blue skies) and very adult visions of love gone wrong (CitadelThreadbare), but it contains one of those indelibly memorable lines that can turn a good song into an unforgettable one. On Sweet on You he describes a relationship gone sour, wryly pointing out that his girlfriend left the room when everyone started singing along to Ry Cooder. In amused disdain he asks: “If you don’t like Ry Cooder, how could I ever be sweet on you?” A sentiment to which every passionate music lover can relate. BRUCE ELDER