Posted Feb 25, 2010


Not known as widely as he should be, Roy Bailey is nonetheless a seminal figure in English folk music, active since the folk revival of the 1950s, and still hewing true to its ideas, with very political songs of ordinary people from a variety of different songwriters.

This, his first disc in far too long, features glowing material performed with his typical understatement, but revealing absolute passion. Several of the songs are from Seattle’s Jim Page, whose style meshes perfectly with Bailey’s own, especially on the breathtaking “Collateral Damage” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”. But there are also contributions from Si Kahn, Tom Paxton and Leon Rosselson, as well as others far less known, and an achng version of “Handsome Molly.” Backed by some very able talent (son-in-law Martin Simpson, John Kirkpatrick, and Andy Cutting are all here), Bailey does what he’s always done, laying the material out simply and with conviction. It’s a reminder that the age of the political singer is far from gone (and needs to be here), although he’s equally good on the sentimental “Take Me Out Waltzing Tonight.” If there was justice, Bailey would be recognised for his real importance and contribution to English folk music over the last half century. He’s good – very, very good. But, as it is, this album title is very apt. The music within, however, soars skyward.

CN - Sing Out! Jan 2010