Here’s another album that doesn’t sound the way it looks. The sleeve suggests that Mark Gamon should be rasping the blues in a seedy bar in Arizona but he’s not like that at all.
Mark is something of a renaissance man: scriptwriter, songwriter, photographer singer and musician who uses whatever musical style seems appropriate. There’s a nod towards Americana in the opening track, ‘Canada’, and again in ‘Molasses’, an historic look at slavery told by escapees who had to leave one of their number behind. It has the feel of a true story and some of the songs here are certainly true.
‘Annalies’ is Anne Frank but the story is told by Peter van Pels who was arrested with her and died less than year later in Mauthausen concentration camp. The approach Mark has taken to these two songs is a measure of his skill as a songwriter. It’s as though he takes a couple of steps to the side of his subject and writes what he sees from there. ‘Gatton And Buchanan’ takes less unravelling. It’s a song in praise of Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan “the Kings of the Telecaster” – Mark should have a word with Jerry Donahue about that.
Elsewhere the songs are about the little people: ‘Immigrant Heart’ is obvious, ‘I Painted A Ship’ is about a pavement artist in London, ‘Kirsty’s Bench’ is an evocative portrait of Soho Square and ‘Cowrie Beach’ tells of a longing for the sea, specifically around Padstow.
The Thursday Band is big on strings and bass: fiddle, viola, cello and bass with Nick Blishen taking the lead guitar role. The acoustic line-up makes a deep rich sound with several harmony vocalists, notably Lizzie J Taylor, Lucinda Fudge and Hannah Sanders playing an important part.
Deck came my way quite by chance but I’m very glad it did.
Artist’s website: http://www.markgamon.com/
‘I Painted A Ship’ live with Nick Blishen at Woodfest in 2013: