Leola Music [Release date 20.09.19]
‘Hill Of Beans’ is Ralph McTell’s first album of originals since 2010’s ‘Down The Road’. This album also sees McTell reunited with producer Tony Visconti, who worked on his earlier albums.
Another link to the past is the guest appearance on backing vocals by Mary Hopkin Jessica Lee Morgan, whose mother is Mary Hopkin, an artist McTell and Visconti (who was married to Hopkin at the time) have worked with in the past. Another notable guest is Danny Thomson on double bass.
It is an album that mixes personal tales from his family like ‘Brighton Belle’, a song about the wartime exploits of his grandfather and father. Then there are gently humorous songs, ‘Close Shave’ and ‘Oxbow Lake’ – where geography and love make for a novel lyrical combination – which features an instrument not overly used the recorder, played by Tony Visconti.
One of the unexpected treats is the gospel infused ‘Sometimes I Wish I Could Pray’, another example of how well McTell and Visconti work together. The choir, production and McTell’s vocals are all spot on. Not far behind is the album’s title track, just McTell’s singing and a piano, producing a stirring, memorable music and lyrics.
Ralph McTell still has wonderful tales to share with us in his songs and Tony Visconti’s production gives the music a warm and rich sound. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
September 26th 2019 Kendall Brewery Arts Centre
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December 13th 2019 London Royal Festival Hall (75th birthday concert)
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