Folk London, Feb/Mar 2008
"A duo unfamiliar to me, as are 'So Long Angel', the band from which they spring, even though they have been performing for over ten years. Accomplished musicians, Fran, bass guitar and guitar, and Mike guitar and mandola, provide a polished laidback sound which accompanies Fran's commanding husky voice on fourteen, mainly self composed tracks.
They have a highly listenable country blues sound, enjoyable without being raw or hard edged. The tracks are varied ranging from the jaunty country style ' London Blackbird' to the more earthy title track 'Restless'. Kicking off with 'Don't wait up' one of several songs which reflect life on the road, my favourite being 'Moving Out Tonight', the duo produce a bright polished sound throughout. Fran and Mike add an American country stamp to the traditional songs 'Geordie' and 'Reynardine' which works remarkably well, while the combination of Fran's voice and Mike's inventive arrangements on traditional blues standard. 'Ain't it Hard to Stumble' is spot on.
The influence of the tradition can be felt throughout the album on their original songs, especially on the blues number ' In My Girlish Days' and the clever composition 'That Silver Dagger's Coming Home' where the daughter in the traditional ballad 'Silver Dagger' is given a voice and a daughter of her own. I was surprised to note on the insert that the CD was recorded at home the quality of the recording being excellent and faultless throughout. An album that I thoroughly enjoyed as I did the visit to their website with its link to a recording of them performing live at Court Sessions not to mention their performance of 'Restless' at the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street. I shall certainly be looking out for them performing at a club near me."
Brian Cope - Folk London
Rock 'n' Reel Magazine May/June 2008
"Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke are a duo with a history in roots music, but Restless, their debut duo album is an attempt to take things back to the musical roots with a more stripped down acoustic sound. Both are capable guitarists, and McGillivray’s relaxed yet intimate vocal style allows the songs to come alive, whether it’s a narrative ballad such as traditional song ‘Geordie’ or their own ‘London Blackbird’. The gritty combination of acoustic blues, country, folk and Celtic influences combine seamlessly on the fluid picking of ‘Thousands’ the breathy vocal presence of ‘Night Witches’, the ragtime flavours of ‘In my Girlish Days’ and their emphatic reworking of epic traditional ballad ‘Reynardine’. Satisfyingly uncluttered and fresh."
Sam Wise Acoustic Magazine April/May 2008
"Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke hail from London but play a very American folk blues around the British folk circuit. To me, this sounds like a recipe for an unconvincing performance, but it works really well. McGillivray has a smoky down-home voice, which is complemented by Burke’s smooth, Pierce Pettis-esque guitar playing. Restless consists largely of original compositions, interleaved with a couple of traditional numbers, and it’s very hard to know which songs are the traditional songs, which must be the ultimate compliment. "
Friday February 1, 2008 - The Guardian
"The annual British folk awards are looming, so it's an appropriate time to pay tribute to the impressive, hard-working musicians who never quite make the headlines. McGillivray and Burke are just such a duo. They have been playing for the best part of 30 years, in the blues band So Long Angel and as acoustic folk-blues gutarists. Much of what they do is very impressive. McGillivray has an agreeably controlled and laid-back vocal style, often with an American twang, while Burke is an excellent blues guitarist. This new set includes a bit of everything - from the pleasantly rhythmic Don't Wait Up, with its slinky echoes of JJ Cale, through to a confident blues workout on Ain't It Hard to Stumble, and a traditional English ballad, Reynardine, given a bluesy edge and echoes of that classic version recorded by Shirley Collins and Davy Graham back in the 1960s."
From Jim Marshall of "The Folk Diary":
"Fran and Mike have been around on the folk scene for many a year, both as an acoustic duo and as part of the electric band, So Long Angel, but this is surprisingly the first time I've managed to hear them. Am I impressed? Well, yes, I am! This is an acoustic set comprising mainly their own songs in a style perhaps best described as a mixture of blues, folk and jazz. Fran's vocals are delivered in a highly confident, yet relaxed manner and the same goes for Mike's excellent guitar work too, making this a thoroughly enjoyable feelgood album."
Here's a lovely review of "Restless" from Neil Fatea who has an acoustic music website on myspace:
"'Restless' feels like a road movie in song. It's folk blues, tinged with Americana, that switches between driving and drifting. Along the way it encounters people and places, occasionally pausing to throw in a traditional song, that they adapt to their style. Fran and Mike pull a richness into their music that belies the simplicity of it's construction. Fran has a really expressive voice that delivers emotion so well, almost like June Tabor in a blues context. "Restless" captures that sense of wanderlust."
And here's a really nice one from Colin Irwin who is a Folk
Roots Magazine Reviewer:
For more information please contact Fran