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Kevin Ridley is best known as frontman of the UK's pioneering folk metallers Skyclad, a role he assumed after the band's original vocalist and founder, Martin Walkyier, left in 2001, having previously acted as producer since their inception in 1990 and guitarist from 1998. Now we have his debut solo album, a series of compositions that apparently were "inspired by the singer's native Northeast" which includes the participation of session players Andy May on pipes, fiddler Sophy Ball from Folkworks, ex-Blitzkrieg bassist Dave Anderson and all present members of Skyclad. Shedding the metal underpinnings of his primary band, the bias on 'Flying in the Face of Logic' is emphatically folk. Well, apart from the occasional trad-folk song such as 'Knotwork', the majority of the album's playing time is actually filled with tracks that pertain to a folk-rock fusion so, while not metal, it's not as big a departure from the Skyclad aesthetic in places as might first be thought. 'They Dance Till Tomorrow', for example, is Skyclad through and through. With the album's full credit list not made available to me, it's not always evident what musician performs on each of the tracks, but 'They Dance...' almost certainly contains Steve Ramsey's fretboard work with his distinctive style of soloing two thirds through which might explain its Skyclad sonics. There's occasionally a discernible Levellers influence at play, most notably in 'De Profundis (Back Home Again', 'Good Intentions (A Young Man's Tale)' and '(We All Get) Where We Want To Go', and any folk-rock fusion will inevitably draw comparisons to the Brighton hegemonists. And such a comparison is perhaps to the detriment of other artists as their seminal 'Levelling the Land' album remains unparalleled to this day and has not even been bettered by the Levellers themselves (by their own admission) so anything folk-rock that has followed will always seem a little diluted through stylistic mimicry. Don't misunderstand me, though, these are solid, enjoyable tracks, just not the genre's best. I can imagine myself still listening to 'Levelling the Land' in future years but not 'Flying in the Face of Logic'. I think what stops Ridley's debut from being a great album is consistency or, rather, lack of. The quality of songwriting is generally of a high standard but sporadic dips such as on 'Point of Departure' (that sounds like it's going to burst into Chris De Burgh's 'Lady in Red' with its 80s pop beats and cheesy synth intro) abates the overall effect when considering the album in its entirety. Still, it's an enjoyable enough listen that established Skyclad fans will no doubt click with and I'd also recommend it to the folk-rock fraternity. Ridley sings his heart out in what is obviously a very personal record, and that's perhaps 'Flying in the Face of Logic's greatest strength.
DR2 Records
Review by Mark Holmes
4th July 2011
1) Flying in the Face of Logic Part 1
2) Eat the Sun; 3) Angel at Harlow Green
4) De Profundis (Back Home Again)
5) The Linton Flyer
6) Good Intentions (A Young Man's Tale)
7) Point of Departure
8) (We All Get) Where We Want To Go
9) Still Lucid After All These Beers
10) Which Is Why; 11) Knotwork
12) They Dance Till Tomorrow; 13) Lost For Words
14) Flying in the Face of Logic Part 2
"Ridley sings his heart out in what is obviously a very personal record, and that's perhaps 'Flying in the Face of Logic's greatest strength."