Revolution CallsI’ve listened to a good deal of Chris While and Julie Matthews over the years but I don’t think I’ve heard them produce anything as powerful as Revolution Calls. The title track which opens the set screams folk-rock and I quickly checked to see who they had imported. No, it is played by their core band of guitarist Johnny Heyes, bassist Neil Fairclough and Neil Marshall on percussion with extra harmony vocals from Chris’ daughter Kellie. The fact that Julie recorded, mixed and mastered the record after tragedy at the turn of the year means that she has certainly put her stamp on it.

It’s not all as head-banging as ‘Revolution Calls’ and you wouldn’t expect it to be. Chris’ songs are, for the most part, gentler. ‘Long Lost Friend’ looks back to her childhood years and ‘Two Halves Together’ is a delightful story of two people…well, I won’t spoil it for you. In between these is the ecological protest of ‘Landfill’ and following on is the self-explanatory ‘Coming Out’ which starts out quietly but builds to a big finish.

Chris supplies a lighter moment with the rolling country of ‘This House On The Hill’ about the joys of coming home but then Julie pours her heart into ‘Black Dog’ countered immediately by Chris’ ‘Reaching For The Stars Above’. Julie provides the final three songs beginning with the political ‘Shake The Money Tree’, another rocker with howling guitar and uncompromising lyrics. I won’t attempt to interpret ‘Seven Seconds’ and ‘Stardust’ here but I have my own thoughts.

Revolution Calls is a personal and powerful album. I love the cover design drawn by ‘Brysy’, who I suspect is a thinly disguised Bryan Ledgard and sums up the determination of two women who have been doing what they do now for twenty-five years.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Black Dog’ – live:


CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS Infinite SkyChris While and Julie Matthews have been making music together for twenty years now, first with The Albion Band and currently with St Agnes Fountain as well as solo and as a duo. They make classy records and this, their eighth studio album together, is no exception.

The album opens with the up-tempo, vibrant ‘This Beautiful Life’, a song which could open or close a live set with equal impact. Here it sets the tone of a record which is full of optimism even when the subject might suggest otherwise. Better perhaps to say defiance in the face of catastrophe: Christchurch after the earthquake and 9/11; or stoicism when times are less than perfect. The new Radio Ballads song, ‘Nie Wieder’, about German Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann, is the epitome of Julie’s song-writing. There is no triumphalism in her belated honours in her homeland but the statement that ‘nothing cleans the memory’ leaves a deep sense of sadness.

The core band of Howard Lees (some nicely understated lead guitar), Neil Fairclough on bass and drummer Bryan Hargreaves are again in residence with brief guest appearances from Kellie While, Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson and Andy Cutting. With Chris and Julie on acoustic guitars and keyboards the sound is big but never fussy. It can be gentle as on ‘Hope Springs’ or rock like a good ’un as on ‘Broken Crash Barrier’. Infinite Sky is another fine album from Chris and Julie. Dai Jeffries

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