Robin Dransfield

Tidewave

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Robin Dransfield is primarily known (with his brother Barry) as one-half of the British folk duo the Dransfields, who recorded several albums in the 1970s. Although Robin performed intermittently as a solo act for several periods in the '60s and '70s, Tidewave, released in 1980, was his only solo LP. Actually begun in 1974 in Paris, five years passed before work resumed and the sessions were finished in London in 1979 and 1980. It's a low-key, pleasant affair split between traditional folk songs and more contemporary material, some of it written by Dransfield, with other tunes written by esteemed cult folk singer Anne Briggs (who penned the title track) and the yet more obscure Steve Sproxton and Paul Parrish. The arrangements are generally inclined toward sparse acoustic folk, despite others (including Procol Harum keyboardist Chris Copping) helping out on piano, cello, hurdy gurdy, concertina, bass, trumpet, bass trombone, and euphonium. The jaunty, banjo-driven "When It's Night-Time in Italy, It's Wednesday Over Here" and brass band-backed "Spencer the Rover" make for the most adventurous departures from the more conventional folk arrangements typical of the rest of the album. This is a nice record with some of the positive attributes one expects of an LP from a respected British folkie of the '60s/'70s, particularly moving, lilting vocals, and wistfully reflective melodies. But it's kind of underwhelming compared to what you might expect given how fervently Dransfield (or, more properly, the Dransfields) are revered by some British folk fans. The album has been reissued on CD as the first disc of the two-CD set A Lighter Touch, which also includes a November 1972 live concert.