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