If anyone is embodying the old minstrel/troubador tradition, it's this guy, Ryan Spendlove, but with a marked difference (catch the clever contrasts in Silicone Puppies). In a CD of almost-strictly solo songs, Spendlove, a native of Gawthorpe (UK) who sings with accent intact but not dense, employs a number of unusual time signatures and tonal shifts to widen the current folk climate and bring to mind Cat Stevens, Donovan, Keith Christmas, and some of the old unique work. Fable is just as I say, a blend of only guitar and singing, save for a bit of radiant orchestration, but Spendlove's vocals capture the ear from the outset, as impassioned as a Kevin Coyne but nowhere near so savage or strange, always conscious of the elder tradition while freely modernizing, never to excess…but sometimes almost. And that's a good thing too.
I'm afraid I have to prophesy that time is out of joint for such works as this to do as well as they should on the airwaves, Fable is just too intense and real for that. More likely, some director is going to again realize just what Spendlove's vitality will bring to his film, as happened with a cut from the singer-guitarists's earlier group, The Blueskins, used both in a TV commercial and the remake of, ugh!, The Dukes of Hazzard. Well, much water has passed under the drawbridge since then, and the ratcheting up of intensity will no longer prove so amenable to lightweight cinematic endeavors, thank Gawd.
On his website, Spendlove mentions Rory Gallagher as a 'sounds like' but backs off a bit on that. Yet he's indeed as forceful and disciplined as the sadly passed Gallagher. While the guy claims a lot of influences in wide range, from Blind Willie Johnson to the Doors and Dave van Ronk, he sounds like none of them, which is apropos, as what made those musicians the legends they became was their refusal to toe the stylistic mark, observing the protocols of the past while goosing everything over the high jump. Part of that includes wry commentary:
Well, there's bombs and guns, corrupted government
…so, in case it takes a little while for the filmmakers to come knocking him up (Cockney, y'all), there's always room for another critic willing to put the pressure on the wide world for art's sake. Meanwhile, we'll hold the door open for Ryan Spendlove and warm a spot by the fire.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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