BEN MORGAN-BROWN – Live In Lancashire (own label)

Live In LancashireWith physically going out and earning a living by playing to audiences currently not an option, many artists are making downloads of live recordings available, the latest being Exeter-based, Purbeck Rising 2019 winner fingerpicking singer-songwriter Morgan-Brown, either as a high-quality digital download or as a Limited Edition CDR version of 100 signed and numbered copies. Recorded on March 7 this year at St Michael’s Church, Dalton as support to Harbottle and Jonas and part of the same Acoustic Roots series that’s already yielded their live album, Live In Lancashire features just guitar and vocals it comprises seven tracks, five of which are new previously unrecorded numbers. The two others are the bluesy ‘No More Fooling’ from his 2017 Cold Rooms EP with its simple, repeating fingerpicked guitar line and a haunting reimagining of Dylan’s folk-blues ‘Blind Willie McTell’.

The short set kicks off with the circular resonant guitar melody of ‘Chalk & Clay’, a reminiscence on younger days and romance in the Chiltern Downs, moving on to the poignantly autobiographical ‘Still Dreaming’ about the change in a father- child relationship as the latter grows into their own man, shifting from “You’re living in a dream world,” he said, “all this talk of being an artist, it’s all in your head” to “something changed and I’m not sure when/But when I came to visit you/You’d say “Play Anji, Ben”, finally recalling playing his guitar at his father’s bedside “As the nurses made you comfortable/As your time passed you by”.

Memories of his old man is also the basis for the self-explanatory joy-filled ‘Song About The Day Me And My Dad Went To Luton And Bought A Dinosaur’ as he muses how “no boy could deny there’s nothing like your Father by your side/And a lot of times, you were working, but that day you were all mine”.

Another folk-blues, ‘Always Knew (I Did Not Belong)’ is a fine showcase for his Jansch-dexterity with the strings while the lyrics speak of discovering music, leading him to realise the need to move on from being one of “a bunch of lads where cars and football ruled” in order to grow and find himself, the final new number being the bucolic reverie of ‘Everyday Notes’, a love letter to his other half left under the pillow, “just a few little words to say I care”. This was clearly a very special night to remember and, on this evidence, both Harbottle and Jonas and Ben, whether together or individually, will be bringing many more.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website:

‘Chalk And Clay’ – live and on Live In Lancashire: