25 September, 2015

Review first published in Folk Rag (folkrag.org)

Mark Cryle is one of Australia’s best contemporary songwriters. It follows that any CD featuring songs from his pen is an eagerly anticipated delight. Let me tell you then that “the taste of the rain” (the CD title defies normal protocols of capitalisation) from Mark’s current duo with fiddler/vocalist Carmel Newman is a joy to behold, or perhaps more importantly, to listen to!! As an aside, the packaging, featuring cover art and layout by David Symons and portrait photography by Katherine OMalley, is gorgeous!

The album features seven new Mark Cryle originals, with Carmel handling lead vocals (superbly) on three of those songs – Bridie MahoneySlip Away and Just Call My Name. This should come as no surprise – after many years experience as the songwriter and bassist for Spot The Dog, Mark has developed a special facility in crafting songs for female singers. In particular, the distressingly sad tale of the eponymous narrator in Bridie Mahoney is rendered with exquisite and heartbreaking emotion by Carmel. With Just Call My Name, Carmel projects an authentic sense of hope in a troubled world, where even one person offering a helping hand can make all the difference. Mark’s more world weary lead vocals in turn inhabit the shy musician who falls for the New Girl at the Session; the lovelorn crooner contemplating lost romance in the taste of the rain; and the ageing, ragged-trousers narrator philosophically contemplating a life lived as The Moon Turned Blue. In a complete change of mood, She’s Comin’ Back sees Mark joyfully (and uproariously) channelling every empty-nester parent preparing for the return of a peripatetic offspring to the bosom of the family!!

The album is rounded out with the traditional I Know My Love, also featuring Carmel’s vocals, well-suited to this up tempo rendition of a song learnt from The Corrs, and two sets of tunes, The Three Little Jigs (pun presumably intended) and The Julia Set. Carmel’s sinuous and melodic fiddle playing is, of course, squarely up front on the tune playing, but features delightfully throughout the album, intertwining with, and underscoring the singing in the songs, but letting loose (in a delightful way) on the instrumental passages and tunes.

Mark contributes skilful guitar, mandolin and bass playing to the album, with further instrumental support from Rebecca Wright on cello (and some lovely backing vocals), Donald Mackay on bodhran, Chrissy Euston on accordion and the inimitable Michael Fix on guitar, banjo, dulcimer (his world debut) and percussion. The multi-talented Mr Fix also recorded, mixed, mastered and (together with Rebecca Wright and Mark Cryle) co-produced the album.

This is yet another delightful, charming and engaging album from Mark Cryle; a master songwriter, comfortable in his own skin, relishing the duo format with the talented Carmel Newman, and they (and all who have worked with them) can be justly proud of the result. Amidst all the pain and heartbreak of the world around us in these troubled days, Mark and Carmel bring love, joy and hope through their music, and goodness knows, we need all we can get of that!! Go and buy this album and do your bit.

You can buy the album at www.markcryle.com.

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