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An elegy to the soldiers of the Great War
on 21 February 2013
Every song on this album is a war story, usually sung from the point of view of a protagonist. Some of the stories mention known events (Gallipoli is in several songs) while others are from the general viewpoint of a soldier serving at the front. Most fit easily into a Great War frame of reference, while some could depict examples of partisan movements and more recent conflicts.
What makes the record so effective is the voice used: the tone of both the lyrics and the singing conveys the lives of the combatants as if the singer were a ghost floating over the old battlefields, briefly wakening the dead. Individual stories are brought to life for a few minutes, usually with a focus on a single emotion for each song, and the effect is strongly moving. The music is mostly fairly simple with a strong melody; snatches of lyrics and music from other records visit occasionally adding a layer of often darkly comic humour.
To say this is an anti-war album is to perhaps miss the point; it depicts the brutality and violence of war without flinching, but it is clearly a record on the side of the individuals who fought in the wars, and English individuals at that. Anyone with an interest in the history of English/British or ANZAC conflicts of the past two hundred years will find this a very emotional set of songs, and a moving tribute to those whom circumstances forced to fight.