Wishfulness Waltz is a reissue of the 1997 Fairport Convention album Who Knows Where the Time Goes?, with four bonus tracks recorded at that year's Cropredy Festival. 1997 marked the 30th year of Fairport's existence, and the band began yet another chapter in their continuing saga with a new studio album and a couple of live tracks. Enter fiddle/mandolin/guitar player and Albion Band alumnus Chris Leslie. Leslie's "John Gaudie" leads off; a mid-tempo, vintage 1973-type rocker featuring the two violin players and Leslie's dulcet tenor. Fellow fiddler Ric Sanders composed "The Bowman's Retreat" as a "welcome aboard" gesture in which each bowman gets to showcase his considerable talents along with the other members. It is debatable whether Fairport has ever rocked as blatantly as they do on "Spanish Main," which actually has Simon Nicol and Leslie trading incendiary guitar licks. Likewise, "Dangerous" further explores that aggressive edge rarely visited in the band's later years. "Here's to Tom Paine," a Steve Tilston song, is a posthumous salute to that embroiled English writer/American revolutionary. "Golden Glove" is a fairy tale of love and romance in which Leslie supplies some sure-footed mandolin playing. This album's title asks the obvious question, but given Fairport's dignified and productive aging process, who cares? The four bonus tracks are in keeping with the two live tracks that concluded the original version of the album, songs from Fairport's past with past members taking the lead. "Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman," featuring Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick, was intended for the 1970 album Full House; "Rosie" is Swarbrick's showcase from the 1973 album of the same name; "Jack O'Diamonds," again featuring Thompson, dates back to the 1968 self-titled debut album; and "Come All Ye," with an uncredited Vikki Clayton standing in for Sandy Denny, led off 1969's Liege & Lief.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Sleger