John Doyle

Wayward Son

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John Doyle's second album trades on two things -- his very percussive rhythm playing, evident on many of the tracks, and his voice. The thing that only surfaces here and there is his remarkable fleet-fingered ability as a picker. That's a shame, since he's a very talented guitar player with strong invention, as he does demonstrate from time to time. He's got some first-rate backing on this, with the almost-legendary Danny Thompson more than pulling his weight on bass, Kate Rusby, John McCusker, Liz Carroll, and several others. But there's no danger of him being eclipsed; Doyle can more than hold his own in exalted company. Even the relatively reclusive Linda Thompson shows up on the beautiful "The Month of January." The material is mostly Irish, with the exception of the American standard "Little Sadie," taken at a relaxed pace -- but then so is much of the disc. Both instrumental sets and songs work well, although Doyle isn't the strongest or most expressive singer. About the only time this album falls short of the mark is on "Captain Glenn," as close to epic as it attempts, and it's a song that needs more of a voice that Doyle can manage. But he makes up for it immediately on the lovely, self-composed, "Bitter the Parting." And his fabulous fingerstyle playing is evident on the closing night-visiting song, "The Cocks Are Crowing." It's a damn good record that overcomes its one failing to gently impart itself on the consciousness.

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