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Review In Roots Music Report and Sun209:The Americana Music Journal

John & Sheila Ludgate Running Through the Innocent Years

In their opening cut, “Payback Road,” Ontario-based folk duo John & Sheila Ludgate telLabel: John & Sheila LudgateGenre: FolkRating: Visit This Artist's WebsiteJohn & Sheila l us that “everybody's got to do their time, it separates the survivors from the cheap talk kind, and the scars they show through.” John plays guitar and harmonica; Sheila is a bass guitarist. And if anyone’s done their time, it’s this couple that has released several albums since 1992, at the same time they’ve raised four boys. A true family endeavor, “Running through the Innocent Years” includes sons Anthony (guitar), Luke (guitar), and Shane (percussion, strings, horns, piano). The title cut deals with time’s passage and the curve balls that one gets thrown, but it’s love that will see you through. “The price is high and you’ll pay and pay, but the trip is worth the fare. It’s all I want, it’s all that I need, but time it wants to change everything.” Every baby boomer dealing with the empty nest syndrome should be able to immediately relate to that message. This album must have been a fun venture for the Ludgate family to undertake as a unit. John’s fingerpicked acoustic guitar and warm conversational baritone voice are always front-and-center, while Sheila’s backup harmony is discreet and unassuming. Produced and recorded by Anthony, the five musicians strive for sensibly cultivated arrangements of the original repertoire of mostly wistful, nostalgic balladry. Whether the song presents a sentimental, a regretful, or a grateful message, John and Sheila Ludgate cover various soft expressions in their folk music. While a few cuts have instrumental, melodic and lyrical similarity that slightly disappoint, let’s remember that this is thematic album that all of us voyagers in life should be able to find some meaningful relationship with. In other words, don’t let a standard cliché get in the way of the occasional profound chestnut from these troubadours. I appreciate the family band’s invitation into their relaxed, friendly, intimate space. “Colours” reminds me of a song that could’ve been worked up in the 60s by Gordon Lightfoot or Simon and Garfunkel. A sentimental message is conveyed: “The clock marks the minutes on the wall. The present colours what the past recalls. The future stands alone, waiting to be known, while time plays a song for us all.” That’s the strength of this project, and some songs succeed better than others. “Masquerade” establishes a pleasant groove (with electric guitar and drums) that shows the influence of the man in black, Johnny Cash. Along with the closer, “Wasted Time,” perhaps a few more cuts with this kind of lively electric energy could have shaken things up a bit more. The Ludgates’ earthy music is definitely worth a listen, and their advice also provides perspective and insight - “Get it all in, before time takes it all away.” (Joe Ross, review first published on Sun209: The Americana Music Journal) Reviewed By: Joe Ross

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