I've reviewed a few other Martin Simpson albums - every one I own to be specific, because I think he's great! If you had read any of my other reviews you'd have seen me batting on about how wonderful a musician he is, and how flawless his guitar technique is and how he is one of the truest and most knowledgable interpreters of the traditional music he obviously loves and so on...
That said (and it does bear repeating), the reason I love this album so much is that it really gets to me! Whenever I put it on I find myself drawn in and my emotions move with the stories of love, adventure, betrayal and death so expertly told here.
My favourite at the moment is the haunting "Flying Cloud" which ALWAYS moistens my eye. It's about a young man who goes to sea, ending up on the crew of a notorious pirate ship, and the song is written while he waits to hang for his crimes. His memories of the vibrant life he led and the terrible things he saw and sometimes did are simply stunning, and Martin Simpson's interpretation is perfect. It's not often I get mushy over anything, being 6'6" and 18 stone, and moving pianos for a living like I do, but it gets me every time.
Other favourites include "Love Henry", a simple joyful tune, with a tragic twist. "Clerk Sanders" is a devastating 9 minute epic, featuring some exquisite guitar, and some incredibly powerful lyrics - I have heard it many times, and the first few notes of the introduction send shivers down my spine imagining the dark story that will soon unfold - it is a superb track, and my favourite version of the tune by far. "The Cruel Brother" is another standout tune.
I am not sure that "non-folkies" will be converted by a record like this, but for fans of honest, powerful music from the heart, it is an absolute must! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!