ALAN CATTON – Tales From The North Sea Strand (own label)

Tales From The North Sea StrandTales From The North Sea Strand is Alan Catton’s second album of 2019. You may remember that Alan lives in Hull and plays guitar with Beggars Bridge but his sideline is in solo guitar instrumentals. That’s solo in the sense that he’s the only performer but by and large the guitars are overdubbed and Alan adds flute, keyboards and bodhran. His previous album, Fanu, was rather fanciful but here he remains rooted in and around his home on the Yorkshire coast.

The first track, ‘The Star Of The Sea’, has a suitably dramatic opening with the sound of crashing waves and the cries of gulls as Alan brings in doomy keyboards and a solemn guitar theme. The tracks are descriptive but also linked to local history so ‘Tides’ has the ebb and flow of water but Alan reminds us that many coastal settlements have been lost to the sea over the centuries. He returns to the theme with ‘Ravenspurn’, an historic town at the mouth of the Humber which was lost in the 19th century and is now commemorated in the name of a gas field! There is a driving urgency to the tune as we imagine buildings being washed away.

Rather more gentle are ‘Shanty’, which isn’t really and the pastoral ‘Sandsend’ and then we return to the roar of the sea for ‘A Full Sail And The North Star’ which is a musical description of ships setting sail as winter ends. It’s not explicit but I imagine fishing smacks and whalers leaving harbour for cold, cruel waters.

Tales From The North Sea Strand is an album I’m really enjoying listening to. There is no doubt that Alan is a talented player with an imaginative ear for composition.

Dai Jeffries

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