After quite a hiatus in band history Home Service march on with their terrific new album A New Ground. Losing three band members in a short space of time might have meant calling time on their 25 year history but no, Home Service are back, refreshed and folk rocking like never before.
It has taken a while to fit the band jigsaw back together but the result was worth waiting for with a vibrant set of songs fronted by the well-travelled John Kirkpatrick whose precise delivery of lyrics resonates with feeling throughout the album.
Home Service recognises the writing of A New Ground as a team effort. Such collaborations can result in disaster by committee but not here; each track is as strong as the next and each has the individual characteristics of a bunch of highly talented experienced writers challenging each other.
‘Kellingley’ opens the album with hints of a medieval riff, a philosophical tribute to miner’s strength and bravery but recognising the need for a cleaner planet; a familiar eco-ode but delivered with the passion only folk folk can do. Another familiar theme shines through in the moving ‘The Last Tommy’ written by a lady of many talents, Issy Emeney. Many a song and complete works have questioned the futility of war but this is something different, simple and powerful. “Three million young men marched away to war, a generation later, three million more”. Why? “I’m Free” is the refrain.
After such a thought provoking start the album moves on in a lighter tone with a great version of ‘Papa Joe’s Polka’ that allows the band to flex themselves; this is followed by a more traditional tone set with ‘Arthur McBride’.
We then turn to 1683 with the album’s title track ‘A New Ground’ being based upon Henry Purcell’s ‘Here The Deities Approve’, a simple arrangement of keys and tenor saxophone hold the track together behind Fitzpatrick’s great delivery. John’s son Benji, freshly released from his own Bellowhead big band duties has penned ‘Wallbreaker’ expertly arranged by the Home Service team.
Our band of writers draw inspiration from diverse sources; ‘Dirt, Dust, Lorries and Noise’ was written by John Kirkpatrick for the 1990 anti-British Coal protest play The Dirty Hill which is followed by ‘The Kings Hunt’ a rousing 17th Century work given the full Home Service treatment with the band displaying their individual talents as the track builds; this will sit well with a festival crowd.
On it goes, each song a gem sitting beautifully in this wonderfully constructed album. Things mellow a little with ‘Melting’ which could have been picked from many a West End play but was actually written by Derek Pearce for his solo album Paradox. A fine piece follows with an uplifting arrangement by John Kirkpatrick of ‘Ten Pound Lass’ that seamlessly flows into ‘The Skies Turned Grey’; more cracking lyrics from Issy Emeney handled with tender care and affection by the Home Service arrangement.
The album exits on another high with ‘Cheeky Capers’; hints of Ska and early Specials – surely not! But this is what you get with A New Ground; it really is a delight at every turn.
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‘Arthur McBride/Chaconne’ – no new videos yet: