I enjoyed Reg’s previous album, December, and Faraway People is more of the same and even better than its predecessor. Once again Reg has stripped himself back to the basics of voice and guitar – plus a bit of banjo and harmonica – with only engineer Roy Dodds in the studio for company. And for all its soft reflectiveness it hits as hard as anything you’ll hear this year.
The opening title track attacks government cruelty through the stories of its victims, driven to despair and suicide and ‘Angel In A Blue Dress’ takes a specific case of a nurse in the resource-starved NHS. ‘The Lonesome Death Of Michael Brown’ contains several nods to Bob Dylan in both its title and lyrics and ‘Cicero’ is oddly reminiscent of ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’. The former tells the story of the Afro-American boy shot by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri which gave rise to a wave of protests but I’m uncertain about the link to the Roman senator in the latter, unless it is his life-long struggle against corruption. The song has a modern setting with some righteous finger-pointing at the rich, and particularly bankers and lawyers, but more empathy for the ordinary people.
There is tenderness here, too. ‘New Brighton Girl’ and ‘In Your Arms’ are both love songs and ‘Refugee’ sees the western world through the story of one such, trying to settle into a new life. Its anger is buried in regret and a sense of helplessness but it’s there. Reg is not without humour, either. ‘Leavin’ Alabama’ tells of an imagined meeting between Hank Williams and Dylan Thomas – in a bar, of course – and ‘Phil Ochs & Elvis Eating Lunch In Morrison’s Café’ is pure Michael Marra. Note the apostrophe, this café is in the south-eastern USA although Reg also places it, somewhat confusingly, just off the M18 and it imagines two of his heroes together with him trying to eavesdrop.
Faraway People is destined to be one of the albums of the year. It will be released on July 28th but you really should be queuing up already.
If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the REG MEUROSS – Faraway People link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.
After 10 album releases Reg Meuross has returned to the solo format which inspired him to write and sing in the first place. December is a collection of 10 of the most beautiful songs which go straight to the heart.
Many will know award winner Reg for the extraordinary intimacy of his live solo performances, and it’s the countless requests at these unique events for ‘the one that sounds just like what we’ve just heard’ that have inspired the production of this distinctive and entirely solo album of new songs.
On the 3rd of December Reg drove to London with his newly restored 1944 Martin guitar on a promise. That promise was to repay the kindness of various friends and supporters who had helped in bringing that sweet little instrument back from San Jose to the workshop of the master luthier, Stuart Palmer, in Doncaster. The moment he held that lovingly restored guitar in his hands, Reg set about fulfilling his promise by writing an entirely new collection of songs on it, and it was these which he brought to his great friend, the drummer and recording engineer, Roy Dodds’ Kitchen Floor Studio in White City. Over two days Reg recorded straight to mic with no overdubs or studio trickery.
This is the sound of beautifully crafted songs in their purest, most original and definitive form. One man – who just happens to be ‘one of the finest songwriters this country has produced’ [Mike Harding] – and his guitar.
VIP VERY INTERESTING PERSONS on Cheerygroove Records CHEERY002
There are many who find themselves described as stalwarts, some for the rugged determination to keep slogging away and others because they contribute so much to stay actively involved on a whole range of levels, keeping sharp artistically and selflessly championing others who deserve attention. Findlay Napier is one of the most highly-regarded performers and creative forces on the Scottish music scene – thoroughly active and a truly energised with a heart-warming zing. He made his name touring and recording with multi-award winning traditional Scottish folk band Back of the Moon. In his more recent projects Queen Anne’s Revenge and The Bar Room Mountaineers his song-writing took centre stage and was described by The Sunday Herald as “Genuine songcraft and wit following in the Difford & Tilbrook tradition”. Findlay is also well known for hosting Glasgow’s premier open mic night at Bar Bloc, as the host of Celtic Connections’ Late Night Sessions and for his Hazy Recollections concert series which showcases the very best in new roots music.
This new album contains ten songs about real life characters that have led very interesting lives. The album was co-written and produced by Boo Hewerdine and features performances from Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott, Gillian Frame, Roy Dodds, Hamish Napier and incredible Danish multi instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren. The VIP project came together when Findlay began Creative Scotland’s Advanced Mentoring project with Boo Hewerdine. The first song they wrote together is the oft covered ‘After the Last Bell Rings’. It quickly became obvious that the pair worked well together and they decided a themed album was the way forward. ‘Heddy Lamaar’, a song about the actress who invented Bluetooth and WiFi, was the second piece that came from the creative pairing – and inspired the tone that would follow to bring VIP about.
Other interesting individuals include Valentina the first woman in space; the master conman who sold the Brooklyn Bridge at least once a week for thirty years; the ghost of a pugilist; the stunt pilot who discovered Angel Falls, and the Japanese soldier who fought the Second World War well into the 1970s.
“Clever lyrical lines, interesting contemporary, semi-acoustic, rocking arrangements… courageous and creatively skilled.” ∗∗∗∗ Scotland on Sunday
If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.
Your first thought is “what a lot of fun Eddi and her compatriots had making this album”. The second is “what a remarkable album they made”.
There is a huge range of songs and styles here from the thirties jazz-swing of the opener, ‘I’ll Never Be The Same’, to the autobiographical ‘Midnight In Paris 1979’ and the rather hard-nosed sentimentality of Michael Marra’s ‘Macushla’. It’s a tribute to the assembled musicians – such names as John McCusker, Phil Cunningham, Boo Hewedine and Donald Shaw will give you a clue as to their credentials – that such a collection of songs flows and blends so well. Roy Dodds and Ewen Vernal obviously moonlight in a jazz club somewhere and Alan Kelly’s accordion melds with their drums and bass to evoke metropolitan France or somewhere off-off-Broadway and provide the principal feel of much of the record. Continue reading EDDI READER – Vagabond (Reveal REVEAL022CDX)