Topic Records [Release date 13.11.20]
Martin Simpson’s next album was going to be a live one but the first lockdown put paid to all that. Unable to play to audiences (he can average over 100 gigs a year) or go into a recording studio, the only solution was to record a new album at home.
Martin commented – “As the pandemic progressed we began to lose friends and peers. John Prine left us in April and I played for him at home. I was focused on material some of which I’ve known for 50 plus years, some I’ve recorded before and revisited out of love. I played songs over and over to finesse the arrangements, but in the absence of a live audience there was an additional intimacy. I wanted to capture this feeling and so Andy Bell and Tom Wright set up in the living room and I played and sang in the music room.”
The playing of Martin Simpson is a delight to listen to, be it the short, but sweet ‘Lonesome Valley Geese’ (with a guest appearance by local geese!) or his banjo picking on ‘3 Day Millionaire/Don’t Put Your Banjo In The Shed Mr Waterson’.
The reworking of the traditional song ‘Admiral Benbow’ is a treat. One of those songs that has a historical narrative and will be one to hear him perform live once the gigs resume again.
His take on Lyle Lovett’s ‘Family Reserve’ is stunning – just the vocals and guitar, whilst John Prine’s ‘Angel From Montgomery’ is another highlight. Robin Williamson’s ‘October Song’ (from Incredible String Band’s eponymous debut album) and of course, Bob Dylan’s ‘These Times, They Are A-Changin’ resonates now as much as when the song originally came out.
Aided by guitar, banjo and ukulele Martin Simpson has adapted to the times and gone back to basics, recording at home, to produce an album that demands, and indeed rightly deserves, your attention. ***1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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Featured Albums w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 GARY HUGHES Decades (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 METALITE A Virtual World (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 KAT DANSER One Eye Open (indie)
Power Plays w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)
ALTZI Point Of No Return (RA Music)
DIRTY LACES Breathe (Golden Robot Records)
ASHEN MOON Ashen Moon (Golden Robot Records)
ANDREWW Shadow Love (indie)
JORDAN RED Freak Show (indie)
HAYES & Y Empty Orchestra (indie)
KELSEY BOVEY Another World (indie)
NEPTUNE RAIN We Breathe The Same (indie)
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