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Stiff Lovers Holymen Thieves

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Album Review

Stepping out from his usual sideman role, Tim Van Eyken shows himself to be an excellent frontman on this solo disc. There's a lot of confidence here, evidenced by kicking off with "Barleycorn," a version of one of the best-known songs given a fresh, original, and quite catchy arrangement before heading out from there. As he'd proved before, he's a very tidy box player, and he uses stalwart backing here, although perhaps the biggest revelation is his singing. It's not obtrusive, but certainly quite persuasive, especially on "Fair Ellen of Ratcliffe," an epic and gruesome tale that stands as the disc's centerpiece before haring off into some modern and quite effective folk-rock. Good as this album is overall, not everything works. "Babes in the Wood" suffers from an arrangement that's too cute by far, but also amorphous, while "Twelve Joys of Mary" seems to lack any focus or seriousness, a kind of English oompah. Cast those two aside and Van Eyken has made an impressive move ahead on a solo career.


Born: 07 March 1978 in Bristol, Avon, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

An outstanding -- if slightly idiosyncratic -- singer and an inventive accordion player, Tim van Eyken is one of several young spearheads who raised the profile of a specifically English style of folk music long overshadowed by its Celtic neighbors and the fashionableness of other world musics. The surname reflects a Belgian ancestry -- his great-grandparents were First World War refugees who made their home in Wells, England's smallest cathedral city. Born and raised in the rural West Country of...
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Stiff Lovers Holymen Thieves, Tim Van Eyken
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