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Red Shoes - It Isn't Over Yet (Cedarwood Records)

Red Shoes are Carolyn and Mark Evans, Carolyn vocals and Mark guitars. IT ISN'T OVER YET is the duo's third release, with the duo augmented by friend players like Dave Pegg and Ric Sanders from Fairport Convention, and on dobro Joe Brown. Musically Red Shoes are good time acoustic folk country with voice or voices blending beautifully with thoughtful guitars. Spread across the double album are tender, heartfelt observational songs, with the first disc containing band songs where the acoustic trio of Carolyn, Mark and second guitarist Nigel King are joined by Sanders distinctive electric volin, Peggy's huge sounding bass, Rob Mason on drums and legend Joe Brown on dobro. It is an album of contrasts, the band tracks to get you moving and the second set of acoustic numbers to get you thinking.

Salters Screen is a bouncing upbeat track that takes a nostalgic look back at an old cinema, The kind of modern folk song, glancing nostalgically into a shared past that Fairport themselves could cover. Stand out tracks are smouldering country anthem I Wish It Would Rain, Maple Tree Boy and traditional Reynardine. I Wish It Would Rain is a big hitter song, you feel you have always known, with a lyric calling for change and great electric guitar and a huge Dave Pegg bass pattern. Maple Tree Boy puts the recollections of Arthur Wallace, navy medic on ‘Juno’ beach in 1944, to music. The arrangement on the song is one of taut restraint, Carolyn’s pure voice tells the story while Sanders' electric violin builds an atmosphere. The recording throughout the album is spot on, and on this track the drum sounds monumental, processional and funereal.  The traditional song Reynardine is here reimagined, as is the folk tradition, into a protest song of our times. Carolyn Evans has twisted the verse structure of the song’s narrative from a tale of an 'other worldly' visitation into a defence of the fox and denouncement of the barbarism that is hunting. Evans' powerful voice, accompanied by Rob Mason's powerful drum builds a captivating rhythm. Floorspot Annie is another modern folk song, a well observed portrait of a walk on floorspot folk club performer, real life tinged with melancholy. For Six Boats and All The Way To Troon Mark Evans takes the lead vocal an interesting contract to Carolyn. All The Way To Troon also features some fine celtic guitar flourishes that evoke the spirit of Bert Jansch or Michael Chapman a reminder of the dexterity of long time guitarist Nigel King.

This is a fine album of acoustic gems with splashes of rocking country fire. The trio of Red Shoes make a comfortable, timeless sound and open a window into small town nostalgia, regret and real lives lived. The addition of Bass, Drums, Violin and Dobro give the album a sprinkle of sparkle and fire. Tracks like Carolyn’s reading of Reynardine, I Wish It Would Rain the anthemic Hostile Place and Maple Tree Boy are reminders that hidden behind a manufactured homogenised autotuned mainstream with performers selected by celebrity panels and auto tuned, there is a world of small labels and real talents more deserving of our attention. What is wrong with the world indeed.

Marc Higgins
Northern Sky