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PETE BERRYMAN Distant Shore Zefredot ZFTCD03
Pete Berryman is a guitarist, composer and singer-songwriter who has amassed a considerable reputation amongst both fellow musicians and music connoisseurs, while often eschewing the limelight himself. Since arriving on the acoustic music scene in the late 1960s with The Famous Jug Band, he’s recorded with John James, Ralph McTell, Wizz Jones and Al Stewart, and toured with the likes of Julie Felix, Lol Coxhill and Bridget St John.
This latest release includes two of Berryman’s signature, place-specific instrumental pieces in Ring Of Beara and Pentyr. A fine version of the latter previously appeared on 2010’s The Ghosts Of May album, but this new recording featuring the outstanding bass playing of Ben Hazleton is utterly gorgeous. Violinist Mike Piggott (whose previous credits include working with Ralph McTell, Bert Jansch, Duck Baker and err, Jim Davidson) makes several significant contributions – none more so than his solo on Amare. That song’s Bossa Nova rhythm and the lovely, waltz-time Trip Lightly showcase Berryman’s versatility as a composer, whilst the cinematic lyricism of When The Moon Shines On The Water , the heartfelt simplicity of When The Old Man Played The Guitar, and the woozy daydream that is The Mermaid Of Hampstead Heath reveal his gift for storytelling.
Holiday and Living On An Island (thankfully not covers of the Madonna and Status Quo songs of the same names!) feature the wonderful duet vocals of Anne Sumner. Pete Berryman is one of those dedicated artists who always seem to be developing and refining their craft. His guitar playing has been garnering accolades for decades but this album’s biggest surprise is the strength of his singing. That the album concludes with the spoken-word Seven Tractors is, perhaps, indicative of a new-found confidence in the quality of his own voice.
Pete’s old pal Wizz Jones chips in with some very welcome trademark guitar on an album of melodic and timeless acoustic music for grown-ups.