Simon Mayor,
Music From a Small Island
(Acoustics, 2006)

No, this is not Bill Bryson put to music. This is Simon Mayor, ably assisted by Hilary James, proving once again the delight, the joy, the importance of good music well played.

Mayor is one of those people who really can draw magic from wood and strings. Although we do not hear his voice, he exudes joy in the sounds he produces. If ever you hear music speak, it is on albums like this.

On this album, he brings together the music of England and Scotland -- somehow Wales fell off the island. He opens with the very upbeat "Midnight in Manchester."

Then the mandolin is ably augmented by the vocals of James on a wonderful song from the tradition titled, "Rosebud in June." She continues with other vocal pieces such as "Linden Lea," using a poem written by William Barnes.

Mayor composed a great set of tunes for "The Wharfedale Suite," recalling the beauty and majesty of that landscape. He then whisks us north to the wild and wonderful "Scottish Collection," where he arranges some traditional tunes to help us visualize the great land. Among these, "The Barren Rocks of Aden" will lift your spirits and animate your digits. The album closes with the relaxed and relaxing cadence of "The Middlesmoor Waltz."

This is a CD of music to relax with or to visualise those places you have seen or dream of visiting.

by Nicky Rossiter
9 December 2006