This is a really lovely release that unfortunately is likely to be overlooked (even by enthusiasts of traditional folk music), simply by virtue of its being issued on a Canadian label and by dint of the fact that its protagonist is probably not a particularly well known name even in present-day UK folk circles. Pity, for Tim's a fine and extremely characterful singer, whose purposeful approach and sturdy timbre reminds me sometimes of Rob Malaney (of Lancashire trio Th' Antique Roadshow). And Tim has a winning choice of material too, as well as being able to call on some quality musician and singer friends to judiciously and imaginatively round out the sound on some of the tracks on Home From Home. Tim hails originally from Hampshire, on the edge of the New Forest; he discovered traditional singing in the late 60s, and soon immersed himself in local Hampshire and Dorset song collections (of George Gardiner and The Hammond Brothers respectively). In the early-mid-70s, in company with other resident singers from Southampton's famed Foc's'le Folk Music Club, Tim recorded some songs from these collections for the Forest Tracks label (these albums have just been re-released on CD, and will be reviewed here in due course). In 1973, Tim had moved to Oxfordshire, where he met Chris & John Leslie, and dancing became more of a focus, notably with the Adderbury Morris Men; his involvement with teaching morris took him to the US, and he subsequently moved to Massachusetts in 1996. Latterly, however, singing has taken hold again, and Tim now performs both solo and with the band Beggars Description. Tim describes Home From Home as “an expression of where my life has been and where it is now, its songs reflecting many of the places and people I've been fortunate to encounter over time. A love of these stories in song ... is my major motivation.” Effectively Tim's dream solo project, this CD has finally been realised thanks to Ian Robb of the Canadian harmony group Finest Kind (whose latest CD Silks And Spices I'd reviewed enthusiastically here last year), hence its appearance on Ian's label. Tim gives us 17 tracks here, of which all but four derive from traditional sources. Some, like The Brokendown Gentleman, The Spotted Cow and the chorus song Come, Come My Friends, are here represented in versions largely taken from those in the aforementioned collections, a couple (Love In June, The Bird In The Bush) were collected by Bob Copper in Hampshire, whereas others (The Rolling Of The Stones, George Collins and The Month Of January) are an entirely plausible amalgam of disparate sources. The setting for the West Midlands broadside Washing Day comes from the Adderbury dance tradition, while Fair Maid Of Australia comes from the repertoire of Norfolk's Harry Cox. The ballad The Three Ravens was gleaned from Northamptonshire singer George Deacon, and Tim's version is blessed with a haunting 17th-century-style accompaniment on octave mandolin by James Stephens. James also adds his mandolin to Ian's concertina and some rustic sousaphone and cornet from Quebec brass musician Brian Sanderson on Tim's spicy version of John Barleycorn. The four non-traditional songs here are all really powerful choices: there's New Year (from the pen of Tim's son's godmother Jehanne Mehta), Si Kahn's anthem Here Is My Home, a wonderful early Chris Leslie composition Winter Man (accompanied by Chris himself on fiddle), and Rick Keeling's affectionate “portrait of a community” that is Lymington Round & Round. So, Home From Home is one of those releases that manages to be at once timeless and strongly redolent of specific time and place; each song is supremely evocative, and especially so in Tim's performances and imaginative yet simple arrangements.
English Dance & Song
by Sue Swift
Tim Radford's departure to America was a great loss to the morris dance community and marked the end of an exciting phase of the revival. Thankfully, his legacy to us in the form of Morris Offspring dancers Cat and Mikey Radford (his children) has signalled a new beginning with so much promise.
This CD shows another side to Tim's talents a voice that is clear and melodic, which at times rings like the ethereal tones of Martyn Wyndham-Read. Tim sings a wide mix of modern songs and traditional ballads with the confidence that comes with complete immersion in the subject.
The songs reflect so many aspects of his life on the edge of the New Forest, in Oxfordshire and now in Cape Cod, that it is easy to form a picture of the man himself in this recording. In nine of the songs, his voice is enhanced by finely tuned instruments played well and sensitively.
The presentation is excellent and notes comprehensive a wholly professional effort, It is good that Tim has revived his singing and it would be even better to hear him with the musicians in the UK before too long. In the meantime, we have a taster of what is to come. I particularly liked 'The Broken Down Gentleman' and 'Lymington Round and Round'.
Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine
For much of his life, Morris dance aficionado Tim Radford has been a folk club singer, and on his belated solo debut that history shows. He tackles the mostly traditional material with plenty of fire, even if his voice doesn't quite carry the expression and nuance of the finest singers. But, his passion makes up for a great deal. Concentrating on material from the South coast of England (his native turf), the expatriate covers some well-known songs ("John Barleycorn," "The Three Ravens"), as well as more obscure material ("Cupid's Garden," and a stunning "The Rolling of the Stones," which is a version of "The Three Brothers" originating in Maine that he discovered online). Much of the album is unaccompanied, although when the tracks are filled out by some instrumentation there seems to be more joy to it. Adding in four contemporary pieces--Rick Keeling's affecting "Lymington Round and Round" is a standout--Radford has made a solid, if not spectacular, start to a solo career.