Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe: The Janus Game – brave British folk ***

Unexpected collaborations are among the great strengths of the current British folk scene, and this is one of the most intriguing to date. Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe are long-established soloists, respected for their skills as singer-songwriters and instrumentalists, but this is the first time they have written together.

Their finest compositions are the bravest. Crosses, Crescents and Stars tackles religion and religious wars, while Tattered and Torn is a pained but thoughtful song about contemporary Britain, in which the sentiments of the traditional ballad The Bonnie Bunch of Roses that dealt with Napoleon’s demise and the unity of England, Scotland and Ireland, are compared with the current problems of “this broken land”.

Elsewhere, there are songs about child refugees, closed steelworks or two-faced politicians, but sadly there is little opportunity for Tilston to demonstrate his remarkable guitar playing, even on a tribute to Wizz Jones.

Robin Denselow