I first heard Martin Simpson play during the annual Radio 2 Folk Awards on the radio, where he was accepting the award for Musician of the Year (for the second time). I was caught immediately, and I ordered this CD online the same evening.
That was more than a year ago, and I listen to this album as regularly now as when I first bought it. Martin Simpson is an incredible performer, and his intuitive treatment of the material he so obviously loves is a true pleasure to hear. As a technician, he is awe-inspiring, with total mastery of his instruments - equally at home on acoustic or electric guitar, lap steel or slide guitar, banjo or ukelele. This allows him to create the most amazing effects with seeming ease, and his virtuosity will be a joy to musicians and non-musicians alike.
This album is a superb collection of traditional blues, old time ballads and instrumentals from the American South, interpreted in his unique way. There is a great variety of material here, from haunting solo acoustic guitar or banjo arrangements ("Some Dark Holler", "Ghost in the Pines", "The World is a Trouble and a Trial") to a lively arrangement of "The Coo Coo Bird" driven along by a full band. Among my personal highlights are two of Simpson's own songs: "Easy Money" - The tragic story of a young New Orleans Jazz musician told in a bluesy drawl over beautiful rolling guitar licks, and "Love Never Dies" - a wonderful example of his songwriting prowess.
If there is a complaint, it is that this essentially simple music feels a little too studio crafted on a couple of tracks, the arrangements a little forced, but this is a very occasional sense, and certainly not something to worry about.
Martin Simpson is a prodigious talent, and deserves to be far better known by far more music lovers. Check out a previous album "The Bramble Briar", which shows that Simpson is as great an authority in English Folk music as in the American material played here. Please become do yourself a service and buy this exceptional folk album today.