I pondered long and hard to come up with an alternative to "exquisite" but I failed. Yes, this album truly is just that. Martin's playing (as ever) is faultless. Sometimes soft, other times hard, sometimes even harsh, but always fluid, and entirely appropriate to the song. His vocalisation? again entirely appropriate to the song. The combination of the two can be almost too much to take at times, because there is so much of the artist flowing out. I've never caught Martin live... the experience must be truly breathtaking.
A mixture of his own renditions of other craftsmens songs and his own, what an eclectic mix this is. His own "Jackie and Murphy" is an incredibly moving tribute to a well-documented but unrecognised hero. "Waly Waly", with it's numerous renditions by other masters (and mistresses) of the genre, is a heart-rending balad. I could go on...there simply isn't a single track out of place here.
I don't have all of Martin's albums, just a few of the most recent. Based on this, I would agree...Vagrant Stanzas does indeed stand up there with Prodigal Son.
Edit, 6th Sept; I saw Martin last night at The Artrix, Bromsgrove.
The experience was, indeed, breathtaking. An evening with this iconic artist is so close and personal, you could be sitting opposite him, listening at the kitchen table. One of the most intimate "concert" experiences of my life, and it made the album even more special. Vagrant Stanzas has to be Martin Simpson at his best.