GAZ BROOKFIELD – Morning Walking Club (own label)

Morning Walking ClubGaz Brookfield’s new album, Morning Walking Club, entered the folk album chart at number 1 last month which is quite an achievement. This is his ninth studio album (plus seven live albums). He was voted singer-songwriter of the year by Acoustic Magazine in 2010 and sold out major venues and all without the backing of a label or a manager. Until last month I hadn’t heard of him, despite his enthusiastic following amongst those who do know him. Fortunately he didn’t hold that against me and suggested that we might care to review the record.

I’ll start in the middle of the set with ‘If The World Were To End’ which is where I got hooked. In the midst of this apocalyptic scenario Gaz reflects on his life as a travelling musician and muses on where he’d like to be when it happens. Having rejected various locations he decides that he’d be at home with his partner and I’d like to think that is what we would all choose. I was equally taken with ‘Hook Village Hall’ which I presume is the story of one of Gaz’s first gigs. The hall in question is either in Wiltshire or just up the road from me – I’ll await clarification with interest. The final track is the waltzing, acoustic ‘The Ballad Of The Beagle’. I think it says as much about Gaz as it does about his late companion, Reuben, a founder member of the Morning Walking Club.

Gaz mixes up his musical styles freely and does most of the work himself. He is supported by guitarists Chris Webb and Dan O’Dell, keyboardist Jon Buckett and violinist Ben Wain. Between them they add extra oomph to the rockier numbers and an appropriate vibe to the folky material. The opener, ‘Loud And Clear’, falls into the former category and on first hearing it felt a bit too in-yer-face for a noob like me. Second time round, and able to put it in the context of the album, I heard it rather differently.

I admire Gaz’s fiercely independent stance but I wish that the music business could find a way to treat people like him better. At least he would benefit from the services of a publicist – he does it all himself, relying on word of mouth, personal contacts and the internet. In this age of information overload the latter can be more hindrance than help. That said, it worked for Gaz and Folking so what do I know? The bottom line is that Morning Walking Club is a belting album with a depth of ideas and lyrics which more than deserves its moment in the spotlight. Don’t be stranger, Gaz.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Morning Walking Club’ – official video: