REG MEUROSS: England Green & England Grey (Hatsongs)

Reg MeurossOn this album it’s the historical material where Reg Meuross’s songwriting is particularly fascinating. His account of how the Suffragette Emily Davison hid in a House of Commons broom cupboard on the eve of the 1911 census is well told (‘Tony Benn’s Tribute to Emily Davison’). The story of the only woman to have officially served as a soldier in World War One is nicely recounted in ‘The Ballad Of Flora Sandes’. ‘They Changed Her Mind’ as a title is a clever play on words, the song looking touchingly at cases of mental asylum inmates who should not have been locked away at all. ‘The Band Played Sweet Marie’, about the violin given to the bandleader of the Titanic by his fiancée, is a gem.

Meuross also has a gift of wrapping up a polemic in a cheerful melody. He starts the album passionately, in ‘What Would William Morris Say’, blending poetically expressed words of Morris with a critique of the contemporary landscape from a classic liberal-left perspective. The title track has a similar dystopian theme, and is possibly seeking to emulate William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ in its sentiment. Its memorable and tuneful refrain has an air of sanguineness, and combines with verses railing against aspects of Britain’s past and present.

The album’s most poignant track, ‘Counting My Footsteps To You’, written on the subject of dementia, is measured in its expression and is a compelling song of great pathos. The CD comprises a wide-ranging collection of tracks, all well arranged and played. It certainly merits attention from beyond the folk constituency.

Colin Bailey

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