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Nigel Mazlyn Jones - Ship to Shore CD (album) cover


Nigel Mazlyn Jones


Prog Folk

4.45 | 9 ratings

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4 stars If one was "there" when prog was in the mainstream, it can be hard to separate the emotional impact of an old favourite from any sense of objectivity. Conversely, it can be equally difficult to appreciate a 40 year old work that is first brought to one's attention, since it can masquerade as a cheap copy of more familiar classics of the time. However, once in a great while one is treated to a lost gem that unassumingly offers links in the musical chain that gradually approaches, but never quite attains completeness. Such is the case for the obscure debut by the equally obscure NIGEL MAZLYN JONES.

"Ship to Shore" is an engaging progressive folk album from 1976 that boasts two unique attributes - the man's inimitable emotive vocals, and his even more striking acoustic guitar style, at once strummed and picked. Other than on the weak opening cut "A Singularly Fine Day", he avoids lording his ample technique over his essential musical and lyrical messages.

Three tracks remain in focus for me long after the proverbial needle returns to its tonearm. "The Man and His Deer" is a gorgeous song with only Jones' guitar and accompanying mandolin. It lands somewhere between NICK DRAKE and AL STEWART, but more progressive than either, more like an intimate STRAWBS or DECAMERON track. Speaking of the latter, both JOHNNY COPPIN and DIK CADBURY play on several tracks, and well. "How High the Moon" is CAT STEVENS like, mesmerizing - think "Lady D'Arbanville" meets TRAFFIC's "John Barleycorn". But rather than appearing derivative, it actually insists upon consideration as an essential piece of 1970s prog folk. Finally, the title cut is pure epic and seems to presage some of DAN AR BRAZ's best strictly acoustic work.

Seek out the Kissing Spell reissue that includes a brace of bonus tracks that pre-date the album proper, the two longest of which, "All Brave Men" and "The Hunter and the Lady", are fully worthy of inclusion. It's time that "Ship to Shore" moor with the other venerable vessels of progressive folk from its defining decade.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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