Martin Simpson – An Introduction To Martin Simpson Topic records
For many years seen as the butt of musical-hall jokes, and since the coming of the digital age, alongside Penistone, the victim of many a ‘search-engine block’, Scunthorpe has received little recognition as the birthplace of a diverse range of illustrious individuals. Within the music métier, Howard Devoto (Buzzcocks, Magazine), Iain Matthews (Fairport Convention, Matthew’s Southern Comfort, Plainsong) and Stephen Fretwell (The Last Shadow Puppets) can all claim the North Lincolnshire town as their place of origin. Apologies to Q Magazine, but I have to disagree with their claim that Fretwell is ‘Scunthorpe’s finest export… ever’; for this reviewer, (and with all due respect to Stephen), he’s not even its finest musical export – seemingly they’ve overlooked Martin Simpson.
Attempting a bold departure the English folk style, Ryley Walker and his pickup band’s pseudo-jazz flourishes and prog-jam pretentions drift in search of a destination.
“It’s a weird record. I don’t even know if I like it.” That’s Ryley Walker speaking of Deafman Glance, his fourth record and his furthest departure yet from the neo-English folk revival sound with which he has been most associated. For listeners who have followed Walker from his debut record on hyper-retro label Tompkins Square, Deafman Glance will register as a seismic stylistic shift, and one that may shake off some among those longtime listeners who expect him to stay a course charted by his early impressions. [ . . . ]
Continue this story at POPMATTERS: Ryley Walker: Deafman Glance (music review) | More Ryley Walker on The Hobbledehoy
Even before the first notes of harp and kora play out from this excellent second disc by Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese Kora player Seckou Keita, there is a lovely piece of romance surrounding it that mirrors the two musics that this duo have put together so very successfully. The main star of Soar is the Osprey, a raptor that has begun breeding again in Wales after a four hundred year absence when it was effectively persecuted to extinction in the country as vermin. The bond between Wales and West Africa has been re-established for the bird, with the first to remake the several thousand mile round journey being christened ‘Clarach’, which also provides the title of the opening track.
As was clear from the duo’s debut Clychau Dibon from 2013, the music produced from this pairing seems to be more a re-establishing of sound and musical cultures, rather than an introduction, which of course ties in well with the story of our eponymous bird, flying the flag for the species in Wales. ‘Clarach’ begins spacious, with a long bass note and phonetics playing alongside the picked kora, before the harp line begins to set a pace and rhythm that grows in strength and urgency as the track develops. At six minutes, there is time to allow the music to unfold here and switch from a minor to major key, which adds to the drama of the bird’s journey, so skilfully illustrated through the duo’s playing. Just before we are two thirds through, there is a subtle shift where the energy calms and Keita’s kora line jumps away from the harp, as if being carried off on a breeze, before rejoining for a rousing end. It’s examples like this running through the whole set that displays the trust the pair have in each other’s ability and the relationship they have built through collaborating this past six years. Continue reading
Frank Turner’s ‘Be More Kind’ is a return to political topics for the veteran folk-punk artist. Read the NME review
England kept his bones, now Trump wants to watch them burn. For a good five years Frank Turner has largely steered clear of politics in song, having dug into folk history to explore “the English identity” on 2011’s ‘England Keep My Bones’, and subsequently been dubbed a mini-Morrissey for discrediting the left and aligning himself with libertarianism (after numerous death threats, he later clarified his political position as “classic liberal”). Following two Turner albums of personal exorcism – 2013’s exquisitely broken ‘Tape Deck Heart’ and 2015’s redemptive ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’ – the barricade against right-wing opinion that he once mischievously kicked at has broken, and the world has spun a dark enough dance that even the soapbox-averse Turner feels urged to musical arms. He spends his seventh album considering the dire state of the world from multiple angles and, unlike the tidal wave of terrified tin-pot politics plonked incongruously in the middle of every alt-rock album for the past eighteen months, he even proffers some tentative answers. Continue reading
The folk singer’s live performance of his From Scotland With Love soundtrack is a moving evocation of lives long lost, writes Mark Beaumont
If prolific Fife folk singer King Creosote’s last major collaboration, with Jon Hopkins on Diamond Mine in 2011, earned him a Mercury prize nomination, his new one should win garlands from Scotland’s pro-independence lobby. From Scotland With Love, an audio-visual project for the cultural festival that accompanied Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, had director Virginia Heath scouring the Scottish Screen Archive for footage of mid-20th-century life and industry. Creosote (AKA Kenny Anderson) then wrote a soundtrack of songs for the documentary, inventing lives and stories around these grainy faces snatched from history.
Played in full along to the 90-minute film, an old world gleams anew. Antique double-decker trams traverse the monochrome streets of Partick to the strains of a winsome accordion. Flat-capped shipbuilders hammer out the support struts of transport ships to a pounding drumbeat. There’s even, set to a stirring Celtic crescendo, rare black-and-white footage of Scottish football fans celebrating.
Despite looking like he’s been dragged backwards through Shane McGowan’s duck pond, Creosote and his chamber-folk band infuse these silent characters and far-away scenes with sumptuous, featherlight melody and a sympathetic grace [ . . . ]
Read Full Review at THE GUARDIAN: King Creosote review – a magical window on Scotland’s past | Music | The Guardian