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Ruth Notman, Edinburgh Folk Club

Ruth Notman arrived in Edinburgh with a reputation as another of the English folk scene's great young hopes – and departed on a drive home after which she and her musical partner, Saul Rose, would, she said, do some thinking and probably have a good cry.

Well, at least this showed an awareness of the dismal quality of their performance.

The trouble is, while Rose has a track record for lending decent melodeon playing to the Waterson: Carthy clan and his performance occasionally lifted the standard here to steadiness, I'm not convinced Notman can be a whole lot better.

Her guitar and keyboard playing are somewhere around am-dram concert party entry level and her singing manages the feat of being highly mannered as to pronunciation and deeply uncertain as to its melodic trajectory.

She has a habit of, shall we say, embellishing the tune with a kind of falsetto selection of grace notes, which can be quite distracting when trying to follow the thread of the story, and despite Rose's best efforts in accompaniment, she has trouble being consistent as to pacing. On top of all that, this must have been one of the most unprofessional performances in Edinburgh Folk Club's long history. Words were forgotten, cues were missed, accusations of playing "jazz" (I wish) were hurled when Rose got a bit lost, and "domestics" were only narrowly avoided.

On the plus side, a cappella songs such as the Rabelaisian Who's the Fool Now were sung with some gusto but on the strength of her butchering of Fause, Fause and her sloppy approximation of Richard Thompson's Farewell, Farewell, Notman needn't hurry back.


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