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The Bramble Briar CD

Price: £8.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
Does not apply to gift orders. See Terms and Conditions for important information about costs that may apply for the MP3 version in case of returns and cancellations.
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Vagrant Stanzas


There is no doubt that after 35 years as a professional musician Martin is, right now, better than ever. Widely acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic and slide guitar players in the world, his interpretations of traditional songs are masterpieces of storytelling. His solo shows are intense, eclectic, spellbinding and deeply moving.

There is no-one who has more successfully combined ... Read more in Amazon's Martin Simpson Store

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Frequently Bought Together

The Bramble Briar + Righteousness & Humidity + The Definitive Collection
Price For All Three: £26.54

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Mar 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Topic Records
  • ASIN: B00005LC3K
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,573 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Polly on the shore 4:17£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. The Lover's Ghost 3:17£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Fair Annie 6:09£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Dives and Lazarus 5:36£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. The Four Angels 3:18£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Betsy the Serving Maid 4:12£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. The Bramble Briar 4:59£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Banks of Sweet Primroses 2:52£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Rounding the Horn 3:45£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen10. The Princess Royal 2:21£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Sammy's Bar 4:27£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Leaves of Life 4:06£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Air for Maurice Ogg 3:33£0.69  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

Winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for "Best Album" of 2002, "Musician Of The Year" 2002 & 2004. A great album of English traditional songs and tunes. A native of Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire, Martin Simpson had left to live out his American dream 12 years earlier, living in such diverse places as New Orleans, upstate New York and Santa Cruz, California. Already recognised as one of the great acoustic guitarists of his generation when he left, he immersed himself in American music and honed his skills playing throughout the USA. This album heralded his return to the motherland with a bang. Universally lauded, it won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for The Best Album Of The Year in 2002. Martin was also awarded the prize for Best Musician that year and again in 2004.

After several years in America, guitarist Martin Simpson returns in The Bramble Briar to his roots in English music. Given his stature as an instrumentalist (his influence is easily equal to that of John Renbourne, Bert Jansch or Martin Carthy), it's no surprise that the album's standout moments stem from Simpson's fluid playing, his acoustic guitar chiming like a beautifully pure bell. Drawing its style from both the English tradition and the blues, The Bramble Briar is an instrumental tour de force, overshadowing Simpson's own pleasant voice somewhat. The cello-assisted "Leaves of Live", a dramatic religious ballad, showcases his vocals to the best effect. Martin Carthy appears as one of a handful of guests, but this album very much belongs to Simpson (and his guitar). --Phil Udell

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Jun 2001
Format: Audio CD
Anyone who appreciates great guitar playing, anyone who has ever enjoyed any traditional music - buy this CD!! The quality of singing, playing and recording are all superb. And he has the legendary Martin Carthy guesting on a couple of tracks. Carthy does not sing on this album, but his influence (both guitar style and vocal phrasing) are very evident on the title track.
Most tracks are traditional songs (three are instrumentals). There is also a wonderful version of Cyril Tawney's "Sammy's Bar", which I think was written in the 1950's, when Tawney was serving in Malta. Difficult to pick out favourite tracks, but if pushed it would be Sammy's Bar and the two nautical songs - Polly on the Shore and Rounding the Horn.
Martin Simpson was already recognised as one of the very best acoustic guitar players in the world. This brilliant album puts him in the top rank of traditional music performers.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Watts on 23 Sep 2002
Format: Audio CD
You do not need to fully appreciate the open tuning of a well played quality acousic guitar, nor have the slightest interest in traditional maritime folk music to realise, on listening, that Martin Simpson has produced an extremely fine and well crafted album in "The Bramble Briar".
Fom the atmospheric "Poly on the shore" to the breath takingly haunted "Fair Annie" never have war, ships, music and death been so masterfully intertwined. So brutal and sad yet so enjoyable to listen to this story teller. This seemingly macarbe musical theme is interupted occassionally with more enlightening contributions, such as the jolly "Rounding the Horn" and the virtuoso instrumental "Banks of the sweet primroses"
"The Bramble Briar" is a musical feast telling stories of lives that were harsh brutal and short, but full of beautiful emotions now ghosting in these songs - not to mention all those ships.
Martin Simpsons best album to date deserves to go down as one of the most intelligent and beautiful albums yet produced in the traditional folk genere. It must surely be top of the "If ever you buy a folk album" catagory.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nevin Ward on 23 Feb 2003
Format: Audio CD
Easily my best-buy album of the past 12 months.
Simpson's musicianship shines throughout this album - his stunning guitar playing is breathtaking in the ease of it's execution, yet it never imposes on the song. As with his friend, Martin Carthy, the guitar line always supports and illuminates the lyrics.
Standouts? - Fair Annie is a big Scottish ballad which is intriguing, moving and captivating. The Four Angels is a Rudyard Kipling poem set to music by Simpson - utterly haunting. And Rounding of the Horn displays the quality of guitar-playing to perfection: at times the harmonies he creates could be coming from an Anglo concertina.
If you care at all about beautiful music, beautifully played, buy this.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Dominic L. Brown on 3 Jan 2006
Format: Audio CD
I cannot believe that only a couple of years ago, I had no idea that this stunning musician existed. This is the third album that I have bought now by this extraordinary multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, and each one is a new musical experience.
The first - "Righteousness and Humidity" was a revelation - an exceptional collection of american traditional and old-time tunes, arranged in Simpson's unique way, and featuring superb acoustic and steel guitar work, not to mention tremendous banjo. The next - "Cool and Unusual" was a very different animal - featuring a mixture of mainly British traditional music, with many ballads, played with obvious skill and passion, and with an African influence.
So where does this album fit, and does it measure up to the immensely high standards set by the other two? For a start, it features more of Simpson's unique arrangements, which seem both authentic and fresh, and once again his style and feel are unmistakable. This time, the focus is on English traditional music, and his love of these tunes is evident. Every piece is performed with great respect and authority, and the story seems the most important element. This is the straightforward folk music, played by a master of the genre, and it will appeal to traditionalists more than either of the other two albums I have heard. It is also fair to say that unless you are already a fan of this style of music, you would be better off with "Cool and Unusual". Or if you prefer American traditional music, why not try "Righteousness and Humidity".
Whatever sounds best to you, please buy at least one album by this amazing performer. You will hear some moving and powerful pieces by one of the finest fingerstyle guitarists in the world (in any style). Outstanding and highly recommended!
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