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Simon Mayor & Hilary James — When Summer Comes Again
(Acoustics Records CDACS081, 2021, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-08-29

When Summer Comes Again Cover art

For many years Simon Mayor has been highly regarded as a master of the mandolin, both for his performances, compositions and arrangements of traditionals, as well as his instructional materials (almost a dozen books and DVDs at present). Beginning with The Mandolin Album and The Second Mandolin Album in the early 90s, he quickly established himself as one of England’s leading mandolinists as well as a fine guitarist and fiddle player as well, producing over a dozen recordings in the years since, including those with his group the Mandolinquents, a four-piece folk, jazz and comedy group in which Hilary James also played. The album at hand, featuring the duo of Mayor (mandolin, mandola, mandocello, violin, guitar, and voice) and James (voice, guitar, mandobass, double bass, and bass guitar) plus a few select guests on this track or that, came together over the course of the covid pandemic, released in the fall of 2021; the title When Summer Comes Again led me to hold off reviewing it until summer was here again. Now that the thermometer is pushing close to one-hundred degrees farenheit in the American western states nearly every day, it seemed like an appropriate time to jot down a few words about this fine recording — little did I know at the time that summer in England is only a few days long and sometimes comes in the middle of the week. The material here mostly consists of folk and classical sounds, with a nod toward the traditional, even though a full half of the thirteen songs are Mayor / James originals, with the balance being their arrangements of traditional tunes as well as adaptations of classical numbers by J.C.Bach (“Al Mio Bene”) and Tchaikovsky (“Barcarole”). Interestingly, a few of the tunes, including the opening comedy piece “We Wouldn’t Be Here” and the closing bonus version of “The Buttermere Waltz” ( a Mayor / James composition) do appear to have been recorded in a live setting, but most of the other numbers are studio takes, and although there are a couple instrumentals and one where Mayor reads a spoken word passage over the instrumentation (“The Stick”), most of the songs here feature Hilary James’ golden voice in a traditional folk style. All taken, this is far closer to traditional folk than anything else, with the added blessing of Mayor’s virtuosic mandolin and fiddle, definitely the sort of album one will want to spin over and over again.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Simon Mayor, Hilary James (Jones)

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