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4.8 out of 5 stars26
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 15 October 2007
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.
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on 27 October 2008
I have a fairly broad music taste ....including a bit of folk.. Fairport, Richard Thompson, Nic Jones, Martin Carthy...and this album by Martin Simpson is amongst the best I've ever heard. There is no doubt that he is technically brilliant ....but it is the emotion and warmth of his playing and the combination of arrangements of traditionalsongs and original material that really makes this album different. 'Mother Love' is so simple and beautiful, and 'Never Any Good' (see Cambridge Folk Festival video) has a wonderfully told story. A real problem with many folk artists trying to write their own contemporary material is lyrics that dont work - there are no such doubts with Martin Simpson. Having seen Martin Simpson perform last night at the Red Lion folk club in Brum, even the songs on this album I felt less sure about started to make sense (i.e. 'Good Morning Mr Railroad Man'). He modestly and with a quiet charm introduced some of the context/background for each song...and then played and sang with such an amazing ability. Effortless and brilliant. Transfixed. I dont think that this album is likely to disappoint.
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on 6 November 2007
Martin Simpson's unequalled guitar technique has now begun to take its place with a quality of lyric and voice, rather than being there just to dazzle, which it always has.
This is a truly great album rewarding repeated listening. There are many and varied excellent songs here, as well as some enchantingly beautiful instrumentals.
Notably there are very welcome new versions of three traditional favourites - 'Lakes of Champlain', 'Little Musgrave' and 'Andrew Lammie' - which stand comparison with any version heard in forty years by this reviewer.
Martin's fabulous self-penned songs here are almost eclipsed by his 'Never Any Good' - quite simply a mucking fasterpiece!
Unless you happen to be of that unfortunate species, for whom folk music is like fingernails on glass, 'Prodigal Son' is compulsory.
No, I mean, don't think about it, buy it NOW! I promise you won't regret it.
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We saw MS playing a Wiltshire school hall last Saturday night, where the spell he cast over the rapt audience was palpable. To be able to capture a crowd for the whole of the evening is extraordinary, especially when you consider it's "just" his voice and his guitar playing that's on display. But, as anyone who's ever seen him play live (this was my fourth time) will tell you, his ability on the guitar is nothing short of magical, while his distinctive style of singing is ideally suited to traditional material.

Put the two together, and something remarkable happens, as he's able to keep the rhythm of the accompaniment precise as he stretches and compresses the timing of the song. This is nowhere better demonstrated than in his reading of "Little Musgrave" (included on this CD), which he used as an opener on Saturday; I felt tears start into my eyes as he skillfully spelt out the dreadful ancient story with complete authority.

All of his skills are well displayed on this excellent collection as he interprets traditional ballads ("The Granemore Hare") and Americana ("Duncan & Brady"), and presents new original songs (including the heartrending "Never Any Good"). He's backed up by some stellar musicians (including harmonies from Kate Rusby, Kellie While and Jackson Browne), but they never detract from the things that take centre stage throughout: that voice, and that guitar.
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on 26 September 2007
As you would expect, yet another masterpiece from Martin Simpson. This guy's amazing talent makes you want to listen to his music over, and over, and over again. There are some real gems on this album and I would recommend this to anyone
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on 18 October 2007
Being the same age as Martin and allegedly a folkie, I am amazed that I have only just discovered his incredible talents. I had heard the name mentioned occasionally by Mike Harding and had heard the odd track, but always considered that he was too traditional for me. True there are a lot of traditional songs on this CD, but like a previous reviewer points out, Martin really brings the songs to life and makes them his own. Some of his playing is awesome and the backing is just right. Cannot stop listening to it and have now starting humming some of the songs, much to my wifes annoyance. Cannot recommend this too highly, and I am now looking forward to visiting his back catalogue.
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on 21 September 2007
Yet again Martin,"The Maestro" Simpson shows us mear mortal guitarists how to combine light and shade.Many accoustic guitar CD's whilst good technically, can leave you cold.
Everything that Martin plays comes from the heart and is of unimpeachable quality.
I have been a fan for many,many years and he continues to go from strength to strength.
In a word - "Mighty"
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on 22 March 2016
MARTIN SIMPSON released this cd in 2007 and at the time it got alot of airplay on BBC RADIO2. Theres 15tracks of gr8 folk played in different styles. My fave is LITTLE MUSGRAVE which is gr8 then some. First saw MARTIN SIMPSON in concert in the 1980,s at a folk club in GRANTHAM LINCOLNSHIRE with about 50 other people and his geetar blew me and the others away. This cd cost me about £2-£3 which is gr8 for a folk cd which can be dear. If u want a gr8 geetarist get it, if u want a gr8 folk cd get it, even if u think folk is not for you then u might be surprised then get it.
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on 13 February 2009
Hi, this is a rich and satisfying album. I did not know Martin Simson before, and neither did my folk lover husband, whom I bought it for. We both rate it hightly. Martin Simson plays guitar with intricate, sparky ease. He also has a full rounded yet traditional folk voice. Somehow it mellows into the living room, whilst cutting deep with stories of romance, yearning and tragedy of old. We going to see him play live in March as he's on tour in spring 2009. Do look out for him, and buy the album as he deserves wider acclaim.
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on 16 January 2008
I'd heard that Martin was good, read the enthusiastic reviews here and enjoyed his recent appearance on Jools Holland's Later. So today when I saw this album in my local library I borrowed it. Six tracks in I knew I had to buy it. The sublime guitar playing is reason enough, but the songs, their arrangements and Martin's performance of them surpassed my expectation by some distance. The other reviewers are absolutely right. This is luminous, exquisite music by any standard.
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