Album review: STEVE IGNORANT’S SLICE OF LIFE – Don’t Turn Away

STEVE IGNORANT'S SLICE OF LIFE - Don't Turn Away

Overground Records [Release date 23.08.19]

Sculptor, Music Hall historian, Punch & Judy performer, volunteer life boatman, and perhaps most significantly – from a musical perspective – vocalist and co-founder of seminal 1970′s punk band Crass, Steve Ignorant is a man whose passions run deep.  They always have, they always will.

The follow up to his Slice Of Life’s 2014 debut Love And A Lamp-post, is typically unapologetic, tackling injustices, depression, despair and loss in Ignorant’s own inimitable way.  That is, with a vocal style that falls somewhere between early 1960′s Bowie, Ian Dury, and Billy Bragg, and with some marvellously sympathetic acoustic arrangements featuring Carol Hodge on piano and backing vocals, Pete Rawlinson on bass, and Pete Wilson on guitar.

And it’s Hodge who, for the most part, raises the delivery of this heartfelt set from the realms of the ‘ordinary’ to irrepressibly essential listening.  Her playing and singing adding dimensions that are both soulful and mesmeric in equal measure, with Rawlinson’s sensitive bass playing falling not far behind.

Ignorant perhaps sums himself up best in ‘Diffrability’ with the lines “I never wanted to be the same as anybody.  You might call me something like freak.  But that’s what makes me unique”.  “I’m proud that I’m different.  Glad I’m not so uniform.  Proud that I’m Ignorant.  Glad that I’m not of your norm.”

It’s an attribute that radiates throughout a deeply poignant set – from the hypnotic opener ‘Don’t Turn Away’ with its almost How Long (by Ace) bass line and Hodge’s subtle, yet indispensable underpinnings, through to the final absorbing notes of ‘Whistle Down The Wind’.

And it just goes to show.  If a song comes from the heart, there’s no need to be the most gifted of singers.  Yes, Ignorant is proud to be different.  And in these days of cardboard cut-out ‘talent’ that’s something we should celebrate.

New boots and panties, anyone?   ****

Review by Pete Whalley


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