Seasoned songwriter Gregory Page releases One Hell Of A Memory on November 13th. He describes its genesis and creation as, “This album came out of an extremely difficult period in my life, one in which I found myself fighting a very powerful force. Although I understood the risk I was taking by going up against this giant, I resolved to push forward, and with the help and support of close friends who believed in me, I made it through all the stress and strain of that hellish year, and against all odds, actually ended up prevailing.” An album for our times, then.
Page describes himself as admiring Cohen, Drake and “other sentimental musicians who wrote about the sufferings of the poor and abandoned” but this album has more energy than that description would lead you to expect. ‘A Crying Shame’ for example, is a break up song but has a jaunty combination (I think) of whistle, fiddle and banjo leading you along a catchy melody; ‘Nothing Wrong With Me’ is self-reaffirmation and a tune drawn similarly from a balance between the drivers of traditional and modern folk music; ‘The Promise’ talks about “The promise of my birth I shall fulfil”; ‘A Place In The Choir’ brings in American traditional music and would be danceable; ‘I Miss The Mississippi And You’ wouldn’t be out of place crooned with a smile in the 1930’s.
‘Green Lights & Blue Skies’ is perhaps the strongest song on the album, again a song which is full of hope, generosity to another, and imagery about, for example, turning break-down into a break-through and also the green lights and blue skies which are on their way and give the song its title. The challenger for the strongest song is ‘Ballad Of Bridget Healy’, which tells the tale of Gregory Page’s grandmother living through the Easter Rising and of the shooting of a fifteen-year-old boy, the youngest casualty on the republican side. There is a strong personal feel to the Ballad as Sean Healy, the boy, was the brother of Page’s grandmother.
I imagine that One Hell Of A Memory could easily have been about the depths that we can go to. There’s a note on Page’s website that at the age of twenty-seven he felt that writing “was his only means of salvation, a solitary and pure activity in which he would be free, responsible for himself alone, and yet might create a work that would give joy and understanding to others.” This is an album about that joy and understanding, about hope and the re-building and re-affirmation of life.
Artist’s website: https://www.gregorypage.com
‘Green Lights & Blue Skies’ – official video: