MARDLES    May – July 2015

Martin & Me

Paul, from Northants, regularly plays at St. Neots Folk Club and Bedford, so he is well known in East Anglia. This is a solo guitar album of mainly original compositions. He explains that the title refers to his Martin model M36, which is the star of the show. The album is available on his website, along with many of the scores. Every track has a note of the guitar tuning, which is so helpful to anyone wanting to learn these tunes. It is wonderful to hear the guitar used to play tunes properly as Paul does here, rather than used just as a rhythm instrument which only exploits a tiny part of its potential. The album notes are extremely well written and enlightening; they helped me to appreciate exactly what I was listening to.

Paul’s own compositions deserve to be played more widely − his Iris and Daffodil, named after two Mersey ferryboats, is a rag-time tune that is reminiscent of Harry Lime’s tune. Silent Movies is another slow lilting ragtime number. The Warrior is a slow reel that celebrates the ship that can be seen at Portsmouth alongside the Mary Rose and HMS Victory. Banchory is a melancholic tune with echoes of Scott Skinner, whose birthplace it is. Calypso Time Rag is so catchy and is one of those feel-good tunes you want never to end.

Victory Rag, the first track, is one of the very few traditional numbers on the album. It is beautifully played. In fact, all the ragtime tunes (there are five here) are extremely well suited to this instrument with those characteristic bass runs coming through loud and clear. Silver Swan, that superb composition of Scott Joplin’s, shows off Paul’s technical abilities to the full, with harmonics and complex modulations all played confidently and in perfect rhythm. The two Carolan tunes are played with a great delicacy that is reminiscent of the harp for which the tunes were originally destined.

Altogether, this album deserves a wide hearing. I hope that Paul will have success in getting lots more gigs on the back of it. You can buy it from Paul’s website :

Mary Humphries – March 2015


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