Beat Cafe
(Appleseed, 2004)

He was known by a singular name. His hits included "Catch the Wind" and "Universal Soldier." He was the UK's Bob Dylan, albeit with a much more melodic voice.

Now, after a break of some years, he is back. He is Donovan (a.k.a., or Donovan Leitch).

Beat Cafe diverges from the material of the 1960s when Donovan was at his peak, and many fans from that time will be disappointed by this release. He appears to have "matured" from folk to jazz.

The album has 12 tracks and the majority come from his own pen. Ironically, the one track attributable to another writer goes to Dylan -- not Bob, but the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. The track in question features his poem "Do Not Go Gentle" set to music by Donovan.

The album has a lovely, mellow feel -- no pun on "Mellow Yellow" intended.

Listening to the tracks you are aware of a performer who sounds as if he is singing and playing for personal pleasure. You might feel as if you are intruding on a jam session in an Irish hideaway.

The title track is one of my favourites with guitar, bass and percussion played to perfection. The traditional track is "The Cuckoo" and it is given a lovely treatment. The pacing is faster than the normal folk rendition.

This is a welcome return for Donovan. His fans will enjoy having him back and anyone who likes a jazz flavour to their music could do worse than checking it out. Presentation is good with a card cover and some line drawings by Donovan on the booklet giving the lyrics.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 20 November 2004

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