REG MEUROSS – Songs About A Train (Hatsongs HAT012)

Songs About A TrainA companion piece of sorts to 2011’s The Dreamed And The Drowned in that it’s another limited edition (1000) collection of previously unreleased material, the tracks here spanning 2013-2017 and, as with its predecessor, Songs About A Train while not conceived as a unified album, the quality of the writing and performance ensures they hang together perfectly.

Save for the opening track, the bucolic reflective love song ‘Letting Go’, which features Rabbit Bundrick on soulful keys, bassist Simon Edwards and Roy Dodds (who also engineered the album), it’s primarily all just Reg and a guitar with just a touch of banjo and harmonica here and there.

As with his other work, the songs range across themes of relationships, social commentary and history-based storytelling, the latter brilliantly illustrated in ‘The Angel Maker’, a gently fingerpicked harmonica coloured number that unfolds the tale of Amelia Dyer, a former Victorian nurse who, after she was widowed became a baby farmer, adopting unwanted infants in exchange for money. There’s an unexpected tender tone, the lyrics asking “did you wrap them up warm… did you rock her to sleep?”, which compounds the chilling facts that, although initially caring for those in her charge, some died and she was charged with neglect, going on to subsequently murder an estimated 400 babies before being executed in 1896, claims of her mental instability much disputed, the song a veiled commentary on the nation’s neglect of such children.

It’s preceded by a story of a different era and nature, ‘Martin’ based around the story of St. Martin of Tours, a young Roman soldier who, legend has it, became a conscientious objector working for those in need after seeing Christ wearing the same cloak he’d earlier given a beggar at the gates of the city of Amiens, the lines “I will wrap my coat around you, I will share with you my bread, you are safe and you’re protected” patently having a contemporary resonance.

A third, fiction-based, narrative is found in ‘Idaho’, the poignant tale of a small-town girl who became a singer and wrote a song for the mother that left hoping she’d one day hear it, heading for America in search of herself and a love to rely on.

Bruised and broken relationships, distance and absence provide the basis for several numbers, among them ‘We Haven’t Started Yet’ and the resonatingly strummed ‘I Understand’ with its sad acceptance of a lover’s need for space and reassessment (a song which, for those of an age, may call to mind the similarly-themed song of the same title by Freddie and the Dreamers)  ‘Little Acts of Vengeance’ also offers a nice break up genre spin about holding on to resentments and anger over things that can’t be changed and only end up consuming you.

Those looking for more upbeat notes are directed to ‘A Quiet Night’, Reg on Appalachian dulcimer, for a hymnal song about finding peace, tranquility and calm with the one you love, the balm for a restless mind, and ‘Ring The Living Bell’, not a Melanie-cover, but (I suspect once intended for December) an optimistic hope for a new year, a song about giving and receiving, New Year’s Eve resolutions and an invitation to “drink the season’s glass with me beside the fire”.

The track finds him on banjo for a gospel bluegrass number about the power of songs to carry message of truth and hope, revelations of the heart and catharsis or protests against war or social injustice, or maybe just girls and cars and trains. It ends on a similar audience rousing, inspirational and healing note with ‘The World Being The World’, a Dylanish strumalong about enduring supportive love and friendship and seeing the light rather than the darkness and how the road less travelled feels like the road home.

Dedicated to the late Stephen Jordan, former head of the Bodleian Music Library, who inspired him to stick his hand down the sofa and see what songs had been lost, this isn’t just a case of clearing the shelves, more a case of, as Jordan put it, finding the right shelf to file them on. Your musical bookcase will be empty without it.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Artist’s website: www.regmeuross.com

‘Ring The Living Bell’ – live with Phil Beer and Geoff Lakeman:

Reg Meuross announces new album

Reg Meuross

In 2011 Stephen Jordan, the Head Librarian at The Bodleian Music Library in Oxford, approached Reg Meuross with the idea of commissioning a compilation of unreleased material. After a cursory search down the back of the sofa Reg managed to find 20 songs that he had recorded to various stages of completion between 2006 and 2011 but which had failed to make the final cut onto albums. Stephen reduced the list to 13 and the result was the signed limited edition album The Dreamed And The Drowned.

Surprisingly to Reg that collection of songs which he had considered unsuitable for the various designated albums at the time of release attracted some of the best reviews of his career: “There is no doubt after listening to this selection of Reg’s unreleased songs that my view of him being one of our best singer/songwriters of our time is reinforced still further.” Alex Gallagher, Folk Radio UK. Anyone who is lucky enough to own a copy of The Dreamed And The Drowned will know very well that a rejected Reg Meuross song is in no way a reflection of its quality – but more a question of its suitability to the collection, or as (the now late) Stephen Jordan said himself “some songs are right books put on the wrong shelves.”

Now, with two successful solo albums under his belt (December and Faraway People) and a third on the way to complete the trilogy and as a nod in honour and appreciation of Stephen, who died in 2015, we felt it would be a good time to have a scratch around and see what else may have been overlooked. The resulting album Songs About A Train is a limited, signed release comprising eleven songs recorded by Reg between 2013 and 2017. Release date February 2nd 2018 (via Proper Records).

Reg will be touring with this album, plus previous release Faraway People, throughout the first half of 2018 in a Two Albums Tour.

“Some songs don’t stay still long enough and scamper off, some are dazzled by the dragonfly’s gleam. Some songs are right books put on the wrong shelves.” Stephen Jordan (1957-2015)

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Artist’s website: regmeuross.com

‘Letting Go’: