Varner Lynch,
Worlds Away: Tales of Time & Travels
(self-produced, 2002)

Worlds Away is lovely gentle CD featuring a combination of newly composed pieces and reworkings of traditional songs and tunes. It opens with "The Green Linnet," which the notes tell us is adapted from a traditional Irish tune about Napoleon Bonaparte, with lyrics by multi-instrumentalist Louis Lynch, who shares the spotlight on this album with singer/guitarist John Varner.

"Bee's Wing," written by Richard Thompson, is my favourite track. It is a slightly jaunty love story with some excellent lyrics such as "so long as there is no price on your love I'll stay." The production and backing is effectively simple, allowing the words to tell their story. Being pedantic I must comment on the lyric "down on the O'Connell Street," the "the" is so wrong. A minor complaint, but it does grate with a native of the Emerald Isle.

A very unusual track on this CD is "Ferry Across the Mersey." This was a pop hit in the 1960s for the composer Gerry -- referred to as Gerard in the credits -- Marsden with his group Gerry & the Pacemakers, Liverpool contemporaries of the Beatles. It lends itself well to the folksy rendition here, with backing vocals by Jane Ellen Varner. In fact, the lyrics take on a new poignancy from this production.

Although billed as Celtic-American music, there are a number of English folk songs included. The best of these is a jazzy rendition of "Cold Blows the Wind," with words from C.S. Burne's "Shropshire Folklore" set to a Scottish tune. Another top composer of modern folk classics, Andy M. Stewart, is represented here with the excellent "Fire in the Glen," a tale of Scottish history that draws us into the highlands and valleys of the wild country.

Lynch writes the final track of 16 on the CD, a beautiful piece called "Hear the Harps Again."

This CD is a great addition to any collection as it brings some lesser known and new pieces to the public. The minor criticism I would have relates more to the instruments featured than anything else. The primary instruments are guitar and harp, and the latter makes for a gentle sound whereas some of the lyrics might have been better served with a more driving and earthy production.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 16 November 2002

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