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Nancy K Dillon - A Game of Swans (Rose Rock Records)

Star rating: 

Nancy K Dillon has a warm, pure voice that you could listen to all night. There is that lilt that recalls a more Country Indigo Girls and some of Nancy Griffith's crystal purity. Dutchman's Gold shows her ability to weave stories out of touchstone lyrical elements to make textbook Americana. Nancy, strips back Drew Neilson's St Jude to its acoustic bones and invests it with a hymn like sense of light and hope. Annabelle has a great folk-blues pulse to its tune, gently played guitars from NKD and Chris Parks with a great foot stomp rhythm are hypnotic. With a touch of Townes Van Zandt's Waiting Round To Die, the tune and lyrics bring out the very best in Nancy's fine voice.

A Game Of Swans demonstrates that this is a Transatlantic album, recorded on both sides of the Atlantic in the US and the UK, with Michael Connolly's sweet Uilleann Pipes and Whistle playing. Musically Fire In The Hole is firmly grounded in the US with Stacy Philips' resonator guitar and Michael Connolly's fiddle building a superb atmosphere around Nancy's vocal. Ice And Bone has a funky percussive beat and some lovely, decidedly Knopfleresque guitar licks from Any Troubles' Chris Parks (although given Chris' new wave credentials it could be a two way process) creating a evocative atmosphere in a strong song. Chris' electric and some interesting percussion features on the upbeat insistent Write Me A Letter. Poor Man's Lullaby is a spectral duet with Gavin Sutherland that has that rolling feel of Woody Guthrie's Deportees. 

Eleven songs and an instrumental to close, this is an album of smooth Folk Blues and Country by a fine vocalist and songwriter. It flows around you, comfortable, comforting, well crafted and warming, like a familiar vintage coat on a fresh woodland walk. 

Marc Higgins 
Northern Sky