Martin Simpson returns to basics. Two years ago, with his Purpose + Grace album, he surrounded himself with guests from the British folk scene, but now he shows off his guitar, banjo and vocal skills in an intimate but varied solo set. The tracks here range from self-written songs to re-interpretation of other people's work, British and American traditional material and elaborate instrumentals. The best songs are his own. Jackie and Murphy is an epic true story of bravery, donkeys and class from Gallipoli, while Delta Dreams is a free-wheeling memoir from his days in New Orleans. Elsewhere, there are thoughtful treatments of Dylan's North Country Blues, Leon Rosselson's angry Palaces of Gold, and even Leonard Cohen's Stranger Song, and a fine, drifting guitar instrumental treatment of the traditional Come Write Me Down.
Martin Simpson: Vagrant Stanzas – review
Robin Denselow is a journalist and broadcaster who specialises in music and politics. He is the author of When The Music's Over, a history of political pop