Stories is an amiable mix of traditional folk songs and covers of tunes by more contemporary writers Happy Traum, Norman Blake, Kathryn Tickell, John D. Loudermilk, and John Sebastian, with just one original ("Patterns," written in the late '60s according to the liner notes). Mark Newman is a nimble guitarist whose style is very much in the eclectic British folk school fostered by the likes of Davy Graham, mixing traditional folk styles with some blues, jazz, and hints of classical. The impression is one of a mellower counterpart to British folkies such as Bert Jansch, though Newman's slight, likable voice is more friendly than forceful. Mark's singing and Martin guitar work is backed on some tracks by the bass, mandolin, and guitar of his brother Chris Newman, though the ambience of the disc is always intimate and low-key. His skills shine best on the instrumental renditions of traditional tunes, when he gets into some of his most imaginative and virtuosic picking. It's least interesting on the straight blues, his strengths lying more with his more placid and dexterous guitar lines than with bouncy good-time blues vocals.
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