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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars

on 11 May 2017
Wonderful album, in perfect condition.
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on 2 August 2013
I had to come up with an alternative to exquisite so perfection will have to do. This is the 19th Martin Simpson that I now have in my collection and all are brilliant, in my view. Vagrant Stanzas has something extra. There's something about the guitar playing which reaches into a resonant mellowness repeatedly through this album. The singing interprets the songs as if old friends have got together in a pleasant conversation to remember past experience. A beautifully packaged album, Martin's sleeve notes giving background to each song, always acknowledging his influences and inspirations and all his friends.
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on 2 August 2013
This is a recording by and of an artist who is at the top of his game. It takes everything I like about Martin Simpson, distils it and and bottles it. His playing is sublime: his technique is never allowed to dominate but is always subordinate to the presentation of the song or the tune. His vocal phrasing is spot on as is his selection of songs. In the two days I have had them (I bought the two cd set)the discs have barely been off the player.

If you already know his work then you will want to buy this; if you don't know him you should take a punt and be prepared to be seduced by this exquisite recording.
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on 9 October 2013
This collection shows Martin in his prime. It could be his best work to date.
His excellent vocal phrasing and expressiveness are spiritually wedded to the songs. As an instrumentalist he has a unique and refined touch. His Tone, range of timbre and dynamics are masterful. He plays finger-style accompaniments which are seamlessly woven into the vocals using guitar or banjo. He interpolates some exquisite slide guitar in places, sometimes plucking head-side of the slide.

There isn't a mediocre track on the CD and as I listen new favourites worm their way into my ears. A few highlights are 'Diamond Joe' with banjo; 'Delta Dreams', an atmospheric road song; an elegantly crafted reworking of a great Dylan song I had forgotten, 'North Country Blues' - plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

I went to see Martin in duo with Martin Taylor at Ashington folk club on Sunday 06/10/2013. Now I'm a big fan of Martin Taylor, but here's not the place to praise him. The duo worked beautifully together and they plan to record a CD together so watch out for it. On the night Martin Simpson sang three songs from this CD; a superb version of Dylan's 'Blind Willie McTell', 'Waly Waly' and his own song telling the true story of two heroes of Gallipoli, 'Jackie and Murphy', a Geordie and a donkey respectively, written at the insistence of June Tabor. They saved over 300 wounded under deadly fire. The donkey got a medal but the man was denied a posthumous VC for being nominated "under the wrong category of heroism." In the highly unlikely event that I was ever so brave as Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick, I'd rather have the song thanks.

I bought the CD on the night on the strength of this song alone. Do as I did, buy this deluxe edition with an 8 track bonus CD of equally wonderful material.

B. Arthur is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher active in Northumberland UK.
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on 2 August 2013
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.
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on 20 April 2014
Every time I listen to Martin Simpson (which is a lot) it reminds me why I never learned to play the guitar: I would never, ever have been able to play like this.

As he matures he seems to be becoming a more confident song writer, yes still picking excellent songs, traditional or otherwise to cover, but capable of mixing in his own good and moving songs (Jackie and Murphy being a good example, and appealing to a North East native like me).

Simpson may not have the greatest singing voice, but it is serviceable and he can communicate effectively.

But, the guitar playing...Oh, man! I just love what he does with an acoustic guitar, a resonator, a slide, his fingers...Never flash or showing off but serving the song or tune.

The second disc of the "Deluxe edition" is very worthwhile, especially for the version of "The Green Linnet".

A must for anyone who appreciates folky, folk-blues and the like guitar playing (not to forget the occasional banjo foray!).
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on 30 August 2013
I have to join the 5 star brigade on Martin's new album. Exquisite. I have many of his albums and this is his best in my view. I only review albums that I have a strong opinion (good or bad) - and this is just wonderful.

It's very simple format - mostly just voice & guitar, but this lets the song and the playing shine through. The best & simplest music always enables a song to breath - this is Martin's gift.

It also enables the melody to come through, particularly in the longer songs with a repeating guitar motif. Of course, Martin's playing is just wonderful. It makes me think that with Martin, Richard Thompson and Martin Taylor all hailing from the UK - do we have the best 3 guitar players on planet Earth??

Hopefully this album will attract many others to Martin's music - Dylan fans especially.

BTW - it is definitely worth paying a little extra for the deluxe edition as it includes a brilliant, if slightly eerie version of Dylan's Blind Willie McTell.
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on 1 October 2013
Martin Simpson never fails to impress with the quality of his writing and playing.Maybe some tunes on this collection aren't as memorable as recent efforts but they just may need mope listening
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on 28 December 2013
These songs obviously mean a lot to Martin Simpson and are very skillfully rendered, but I can't quite connect with them emotionally; Maybe I'm stuck in his 'Sad or High Kicking ' era.
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on 9 August 2013
I've watched and listened to Martin Simpson for many years.

This album is just a masterclass of what he does best. Wonderful collection of songs, and that effortless blend of voice and instrument.
The sleeve note say that most of the recordings were first takes, and they do have that freshness.
He has a great feel for the blues style, and that slight rawness and hard edge comes through into the more traditional songs. It gives those songs the immediacy that they probably had when they were first written.

The album is worth it just for Delta Dreams and Jackie & Murphy alone !
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