This is the interview that I have always wanted to do with Ralph.
The conversation started earlier this year, when I was at the Radio 2 Folk Awards.
I had managed to catch Ralph for a moment at the after show party and became locked into a fascinating conversation about songwriting. You know the type, where everyone else in the room fades out of focus around you.
It was a really special night, as Sandy Denny was inducted into the Radio 2Folk Awards Hall of Fame and Rufus sang that version of ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes‘. I then noticed a third person come into focus as Ralph introduced me to Georgia, Sandy Denny’s daughter, which was the icing on the evenings cake for me.
The room was again busy with life, colour and movement and the sea of people in the bar shifted and I found myself in a different place to where I was before thinking, now that would have been a great conversation to have recorded…
So, when Paul Johnson and I caught up with Ralph at the St George’s Festival for Beckenham in June we hatched a plan to try and recreate the essence of that conversation backstage at Cropredy 2016.
Paul Johnson was also champing at the bit to speak Ralph again, as it had been ten years or so since he was last a guest on his Kent based radio show which some might remember as included a live version of ‘The Hiring Fair’.
So, here it is, the Ralph McTell 2016 Cropredy Interview from folking.com. Click on the play button below to start listening to it…
We’ll leave you with this memory from Saturday evening…
The first word that came to me when I listened to this initially was ‘Classy’ .
It is difficult to talk about the exceptional song writing and musicianship on this album without reminding myself this guy is still a teenager, only 18. This young musician has been grafting for a few years already and soaking up influences from masters of the song writing craft, the likes of Steve Knightley, Boo Hewerdine and Martin Simpson , the essences of those are there entwined with his own unique style and voice .
All the songs have a warmth, perceptiveness and empathy running through them, all delivered with this powerful voice . There is a thread of coming of age and rites of passage running through many of the tracks. He shows the ability to pull you into a story a quality key to all good storytelling songwriters, and I found myself eager to hear the songs again and again and shaking my head with wonder. In particular the overwhelmingly poignant ‘ Last Train’ , I would defy even the hardest heart not to be moved by the imagery of the young soldier heading home to deliver a heartbreaking message to a comrades loved one.
Lukes musicianship and guitar playing is astonishingly skilful, intricate and self-assured as with ‘Winning Goal’ which has sparks of the bright bell like style of Martin Simpson.
The album has been deftly and sensitively produced by the giant of British song writing, Martyn Joseph , letting Luke show off his voice and guitar playing without too many extra colours to distract from Lukes raw energy . Only adding touches of backing vocals and lovely double tracking of Lukes vocals, and delicate whispers of a Tenor guitar here and there.
This debut album has well and truly carved a new benchmark for the next generation of Songwriters and will have Luke snapping at the heels of the likes of Ed Sheeran and Frank Turner in no time at all. It is a highly accomplished creation in every way, and showcases this young singer/ songwriters talents magnificently!
Heck after all said ….Just buy it! …Then go see him live on tour in the UK with Martyn Joseph this Autumn.
I suppose it must be at least 20 years since I saw a live performance (I believe it was The Hope & Anchor in Islington) by Charlie Dore. Things haven’t changed much in as much that I think she’s still one of this country’s finest singer/songwriters including previous hits “Pilot Of The Airwaves” and Jimmy Nail’s “Aint No Doubt”. Coming from a lady who is versed in the arts of both music and theatre her lyrics are wordy and enjoyable and, at the end of the day set out to ‘entertain’…if that’s not too dirty a word? If proof were needed then check out “A Man Walks Into A Bar” where the song makes you listen by bringing you in on the joke. This may not be a laugh out loud set-piece but by its very nature the title draws your attention to what lies beneath the headline.
A bit like a Derrin Brown inspired Saatchi & Saatchi subliminal advert these songs pack a powerful punch that will linger long after the last syllable has been uttered. It’s this engaging skill as a songwriter that will bring wry smiles and knowing nods to their subject matter including difficult step-children “Milk Teeth” and the infidelity inspired hot club jazz of “His Wife” that makes the listener feel like an investor in a magical ‘words factory’. A round of applause must also go to Dore’s sterling band of musicians including multi-instrumentalist Julian Littman (now also a member of Steeleye Span), Dudley Phillips (double bass) and strings maestro Jake Walker. This is the real deal for those that like their ‘folk’ roots with a little more edge.