Best described as an odd blend of 'faux late Elizabethan and faux Regency' music. It's very refined and with Paul often seeming to sing about an octave above where he feels comfortable. One or two songs (eg: 'Virtue' and 'In praise of a beggar's life') almost have the feel of mini-opera in the way the stories are told). There is also a lot of small-orchestra accompaniment
Many folks know Paul Brett for his highly accomplished 12 string guitar work or his bluesy singing or his heavier music with 'Sage'. This is utterly different ..... laid back, gentle, a bit 'wafty' at times and in places I'm afraid to say, almost ambient.
I bought this because I admire Paul's playing and the cover illustration certainly suggests that there will be a goodly amount of his 6 and 12 string artistry in front of the overall mix. There IS some - but on the whole, the high registers in which Paul sings tends to wear your interest away. Well, it did for me anyway, and that's all I can really respond to. Perhaps the best example of Paul's guitar playing and composition skills can be heard in the 10th track ('The compleat angler'). Unfortunately that is followed by a track in which Paul almost seems to strangle himself in the opening bars as he struggles for notes he can't really sing cleanly enough ('The angler's wish').
On balance then - 3 stars and a rating of 'It's OK'
Now if only he would release some of his folk and blues playing and singing of the type and style that features in many of his Youtube demos and reviews of guitars. Try, for instance, the uploads which feature two particular JHS Vintage guitars. 'The Compleat Angler' is an utterly different sort of music. For some it will be a fine catch, for others it will sink without trace.
There ought to be plenty of people familiar with Izaak Walton's landmark tome The Compleat Angler, one of the most printed books of all time. Walton passed away in 1683 and has remained a key historical figure both in angling circles and as an author. Here Paul Brett, a fan of Walton's legacy, has painstakingly composed musical scores for a collection of songs found within The Compleat Angler. For those unfamiliar with Brett, he is a highly accomplished guitarist with a finger picking style of the very highest quality. This album is deliberately made to sound in keeping with the time of Walton and a very different England to that of today, an unspoilt England of countryside and peaceful waters, and as such this disk may be a shock to those expecting folk rock. But the listener will soon come to appreciate the efforts of Brett and his fellow musicians on this exquisite cd which serves as a lovely audio companion to a great book. Of course, anyone who loves The Compleat Angler will revel in the crystal clear sound of this assemblage which brings to life the words of songs written over 350 years ago. There are times when Brett is unaccompanied, such as The Salmon Leap and The Compleat Angler, and we get to hear one of Britain's very best guitarists flexing his muscle. Elsewhere the string section and flute flesh out the sound into something very precious for fans of Staffordshire's late angling hero. In short, essential for intellectual fishermen, historians, music lovers, and those who long for a peaceful England of quiet streams and rolling hills. I purchased my copy from Izaak Walton's cottage in Shallowford (Staffordshire) which is the only angling museum in Great Britain, and well worth a visit.