I am a serial Martin Simpson reviewer - I have now bought 5 of his wonderful albums, and I have reviewed them all. Simply put, I love the arrangements, I LOVE the guitar playing and most of all I love the wonderful songs, which Martin Simpson seems to inhabit as he sings them, allowing the power of these tales of love, life, betrayal and death to show through.
"Prodigal Son" features a wonderful mix of instrumental and vocal pieces, and on this album the material featured is a mix of American and British traditional repertoire. My favourites (at the moment) are "The Granemore Hare", a haunting song about a local hunt, and the hare they are hunting. "Little Musgrave" - my absolute favourite without doubt - a wonderful song about 2 illicit lovers killed by a jealous husband - its a powerful story, and Martin Simpson plays and sings it perfectly - it brings a tear to my eye every time. "Duncan & Brady" is a simple blues ballad featuring guitar playing that is anything but simple, and is one of the most infectious tunes I have heard in a long while.
This album features several Simpson originals too, and they seem very close to his heart - a song thanking his father for being who he was, a love letter and a tune about the death of his mother - they are what make this album different from recent releases, and for me at least they are a welcome addition.
I can put on a Martin Simpson album at any time, and within a few moments I'm transported - all troubles forgotten, immersed in the music. He understands this music better than almost anyone else around, and a lifetime playing and singing it have given him a wonderfully easy presentation. This is his best album yet in my opinion.