Bob Fox’s Borrowed Moments

cover art for Borrowed MomentsBob Fox has made two of my favourite albums from the last half decade, the brilliant Dreams Never Leave You, backed by members of Fairport Convention, and as a member of the Hush, a jazzy outfit performing songs from Northumbria and around there. Borrowed Moments is his first, but not his last, album for Topic.

Compared to the albums mentioned above this is a collection of more complex songs, with less complex treatments of the songs. All backing is narrowed down to Fox’s own guitar, bouzouki and piano with suitable contributions by Anna Ryder on vocals, accordion and trumpet, Norman Holmes on whistles and flutes, Chuck Fleming on viola, and Neil Harland on double bass. None of the instrumental extravaganza of the Hush or the Dreams album. This a more reflective offering.

On Dreams Never Leave You Fox showed himself to be an able storyteller. He continues that here. “The Whitby Tailor” is a hilarious tale of a poor tailor’s encounter with some crafty women. There are quite a few songs from the British Isles about men being cheated by women, and this must be one of the best.

There is another, quite different tale in Ralph McTell’s “Pepper and Tomatoes.” The song deals with the agonies of civil war, when old neighbours and friends are divided and you do not know whom you can trust. One of McTell’s mightier works that fares very well in the hands of Fox.

“My Love Is In America” is a rather new song by Chris Leslie. I was a bit anxious about its inclusion on the album since I simply love Fairport Convention’s version. But Fox manages to make it his own. He has slowed it down a bit, staying clear of any comparisons with the Fab Five. His treatment confirms the song to be one of the songs from the new millennium.

As for the rest Fox confirms his impeccable taste for chosing songs that suits his voice and playing. Not writing songs himself and not letting himself be trapped into any narrow field of music he is able to pick songs from many sources. Many of them, like the traditional “Virginia” and “Bonny At Morn” are new to me, with some old chestnuts, like “Shoals Of Herring” and “Dance To You Daddy” thrown in.

I like this album very much. It may not be as instantly appealing as Dreams Never Leave You, and there is no “Big River” or “Guard Your Man Well” here, but what you get is 11 good songs treated by an expert. Let the album take its time to grow on you and you will not be disappointed. I am already looking forward to the next album since Fox now has a three-album-deal with Topic.

The only thing it lacks is a Beatles song. When Fox recorded “From Me to You” his intention was to put one Beatles song on each album. But I guess Topic would not allow it.

(Topic, 2003)

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Lars Nilsson

Lars Nilsson is in his 60s, is an OAP and lives in Mellerud in the west of Sweden. He has a lifelong obesession with music and has playing the guitar since his early teens, and has picked up a number of other instruments over the years. At the moment he plays with three different groups, specialized in British folk, acoustic pop and rock, and, Swedish fiddle music. Lars has also written a number of books, most of them for school use, but also a youth novel, a couple of books about London and a book about educational leadership. He joined the Green Man Review team in 1998.

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