Album review: STEELEYE SPAN – EST’D 1969

STEELEYE SPAN – EST’D 1969

Park Records [Release date 21.06.19]

Unlike many long established bands who only add a few songs off any new album into their set lists, Steelye Span have added nearly all of ‘EST’D 1969’ into their current set list.

Take a song like ‘Harvest’, which sounds like it has been around a lot longer than it has.  A classic Steeleye Span song anchored in English history and one of the many on this album which utilises the band’s harmony vocals to great effect (all bar drummer Liam Genockey contribute backing vocals). Ian Anderson guests adding his flute playing to ‘Old Matron’, a song that wouldn’t look out of place on an early Jethro Tull album.

Maddy Prior sings a cheeky vocal on ‘Domestic’, where the second part of the song deals with a wife and her husband’s lack of ‘courage’ in the bedroom. The song also highlights that Steeleye Span have never been afraid to push the rock side of their folk rock credentials.  The song features plenty of guitar and solos from Julian Littman and Andrew ‘Spud Sinclair.

The band’s take on ‘The January Man’, written by Dave Goulder and performed by Christy Moore and Mike Harding amongst others, harks back to the 60’s folk boom as Tim Hart used to sing this. In fact the album is a good mix of modern production and sound, giving a new sound to many traditional songs and folk ballads.

Maddy’s and former member Rick Kemp’s daughter Rose Kemp wrote the excellent album closer ‘Reclaimed’. The band debuted this one on last year’s autumn tour. Sung a cappella it sounds wonderful on the headphones and the wise words of the song show nothing is permanent -

‘Roots and time will move concrete and iron,

And ivy and water will loosen any mortar,

And all that man has built will crumble down to silt’.

Newer members (both joined in 2017), multi-instrumentalist Benji Kirkpatrick and violin player Jessie May Smart, are adding to the band’s overall sound, especially the acoustic instruments played by Kirkpatrick.

Steeleye Span are sailing with confidence into their fiftieth anniversary, backed by this very enjoyable album and the band’s seemingly endless love of getting out and performing live in order to keep their songs and traditional music alive. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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