I started to listen to Circlet Of Gold and got so wrapped up in the opening track that I had do some research and by the time I’d done that I had to start listening again. No bad thing, actually. Mike Turnbull is a singer-songwriter from the Lake District whose main instruments are tenor guitar, octave mandola and tenor ukulele. Their sound coupled with the sources of his songs suggests Seth Lakeman and, in truth, that isn’t a bad comparison. He certainly has the same drive and energy.
That opening track is ‘The King Of Dunmail Raise’ and if you’re local you’ll know that Dunmail was the last king of Cumberland, killed by the English and buried under a cairn above Grasmere. There is also a shopping mall named after him in Workington but we’ll let that pass. Mike weaves into his song the legend of the warrior spirits who offer Dunmail the crown every year only to be rebuffed.
There is nothing parochial about Mike’s songwriting although you could find a link to ‘Fields Of Heavy Dew’ in any community. The song is set at the end of the Great War with soldiers looking forward to returning home. ‘Heart Of The Sea’ is about the whaling trade while ‘The Mountaineers’ recounts the tale of Mallory and Irving, lost on Everest in 1924 and ‘Ghost Of The Brown Lady’ is a ghost story from Norfolk.
‘Drowning Valley’ comes closer to home with story of the drowning of Mardale Green to clear the valley for Haweswater reservoir but the most fascinating song is ‘Will I Save The King’ in which Mike explains the origin of his surname which dates back to the 14th century. I think that every songwriter should be required to carry out the same exercise.
I believe that Circlet Of Gold is Mike’s debut album and if that’s so I hope it does really well for him.
‘The King Of Dunmail Raise’: