Show of Hands, aka songwriter/vocalist Steve Knightley and multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer, had been together a few years before this album came out, but aside from their relentless touring schedule this was the first real glimmer of critical acclaim outside the sometimes insular world of the folk circuit. As with all Show of Hands material, this album is full of modern concerns addressed through the medium of traditionally inspired (and half familiar-sounding) melodies and beautiful acoustic instrumentation, so anyone who dares suggest that folk music has no relevance to contemporary life could certainly do worse than listen to this! The songs are a mixture of haunting ballads ("Captains" and the much-covered "Exile", a song that may well be familiar to many who've not even heard of Show of Hands), cleverly barbed (and slightly left-of-centre) protest songs ("The Hunter" and "The Well"), rabble-rousing choruses ("The Man in Green") and a couple of outstanding, chilling story-songs with perhaps a nod in the direction of the Fairport Convention lyric tradition. All the songs are rooted in a deep love for the countryside and its people and traditions, but never over-romanticised: these are songs of the real world, of general elections ("The Hunter"), TV and the internet ("Safe as Houses"), asylum seekers ("Exile") and the meaning of life in a world tbat's accelerating out of control. For anyone with an interest in singer-songwriters and storytelling, this is probably the best starting point to get into Show of Hands. They are a band deserving of great things, who've made their mark from sheer hard graft and pure poetry - and this is a definite contender for the Top 10 Greatest Folk Albums Ever!