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The Expatriate Game

Live in Swadlincote

…Ben is thin, with pale, spiky, untidy hair and casual clothes. He looks like he doesn’t care about anything but when he rocks gently back and forth, his lips half smiling, his eyes closed, lost in some personal, musical reverie, he plays like the only thing worth caring about is a violin. He moves his right arm up and down like some oriental dancer folding and unfolding their hands, an easy, stylish, fluid motion, offering syncopated fills to the melody of Maggie’s flute and the intricately layered structures of Duck’s guitar. His playing is warm, rich, sometimes dry, sometimes dusty, never intrusive, always inventive; he’s a Zen fly fisherman, only with a bow not a rod.

…Ben and Maggie have the ability to do more than just engage your critical acclaim; they can ignite your emotions or break your heart slowly if they choose and the fabulous Baker boy has the surgical skill and technique, the wit and the musical charm to stitch it all back together again.

Neil Dalton, 2007

Traditional Irish & American Music

…while Ben’s fiddle comes to the fore on Temperance Reel and provides spirited interplay with Maggie’s flute on Over the Waterfall. Overall, the album’s very relaxed feel supplements enhances the enjoyment factor and offers the very real sense that these three musicians not only understand their music but know how to convey their grasp of the traditions to a wider audience.

Geoff Wallis, 15th June, 2005

…three of the finest musicians you are ever likely to hear. They are Duck Baker (US-born guitarist), Ben Paley (fiddle player of US parentage) and Maggie Boyle (singer and flautist of Irish parentage)… Ben Paley shows himself to be Mr. Appropriate, providing flair and empathy in equal parts.

Alan Rose, The Living Tradition, #63 July/August 2005

This is a somewhat unlikely combination, but one that works superbly well. The London-based American guitar wizard, Duck Baker combines with flutist and singer Maggie Boyle and our local fiddling superstar, Ben Paley.

With Maggie having a London Irish background and Ben’s parents being American, the theme of the album and its name comes from people who are living away from their cultural and musical roots. The songs and tunes come from America and Ireland and there is some glorious singing and playing throughout.

The high spots include Maggie’s beautiful singing of “A Youth Inclined To Ramble”, Duck’s slow and majestic rendition of “Sean O’Dwyer of the Glen” and any time when the fiddle and flute are heard together, but particularly on their beautiful setting of “The Blackbird.”

Vic Smith, Folk Diary April/May 2005

…Ben’s a fabulous young fiddle player who readily immerses himself in activities as diverse as Scandinavian music, revivalist oldtime (with his father in the New Deal String Band) and the vibrant acoustic thrash of McDermotts 2 Hours and the Levellers.

A specially noteworthy feature of the performances, though, is the way in which the extraordinary talents of each of the three musicians as individuals, normally utilised in a solo situation, are adapted so very naturally to the group situation… Ben’s Swedish-style harmony playing on the well-travelled The Blackbird is an unusual but effective touch, while his intense accompaniment of Maggie’s excellent rendition of A Youth Inclined To Ramble is a CD highlight.

An exemplary release this, everywhere exuding a loving attention to detail alongside the equally exemplary musicianship. Do track it down, you’ll not regret it.

David Kidman, Netrhythms