Country Music People October 2017 - Page 30

albumreviews REG MEUROSS Faraway People  Faraway People / Angel In A Blue Dress / The Lonesome Death Of Michael Brown / For Sophie (This Beautiful Day) / New Brighton Girl / Cicero / Refugee / In Your Arms / Leavin’ Alabama / In Dreams / Phil Ochs & Elvis Eating Lunch In Morrisons’ Café Producer: Reg Meuross Hatsongs 53:43 Sometimes you don’t need a whole heap of money to make an album: you can do it in a small studio with just voice and guitar and it can work fine so long as you have decent songs THE MASONS Drive Home…With The Masons  1/2 Have You Ever Been Lonely? / Fine / Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me Sonny Jim / It Is What It Is / She’s Got You Producers: Joe Korner & Tom 30 cmp - OCTOBER 2017 and can present them with passion. The troubadours from the early 1960s knew this and we had fine albums of new songs from Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton and traditional ones from Joan Baez. No record before or since has been as angry or defiant as Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1963). It’s not an easy listen, but it brilliantly analyses those troubled times, containing many of his finest compositions. Maybe the intensity was too great for Dylan as he never made an album like that again, but it became a benchmark for other socially-committed songwriters. In recent times we have had thought-provoking albums in the UK from Reg Meuross, Steve Tilston and Steve Ashley, and of course Ralph McTell is always worth hearing. I like Robb Johnson but he is too assertive – sort of, “This is what you must think”- leaving the listener with no room for manoeuvre. I’ve just watched a South Bank Show on Benjamin Clementine and I must check this guy out. I have come to appreciate Reg Meuross more and more with the years. I first saw him with the rather jokey Hank Wangford Band and hadn’t appreciated the depth of his songs, although I knew he had a better voice than Hank’s. Goodbye Hat was the song that made me realise he was something special. This time I feel he is deliberately drawing attention to those 60s albums. He references There But For Fortune in the first and last songs and the melody of Cicero owes something to A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. The very title The Lonesome Death Of Michael Brown evokes The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll where a defenceless black victim is killed by a white man. One song is about the meeting of two hardened drinkers (Hank Williams and Dylan Thomas) and another about Phil Ochs and Elvis Presley eating lunch in Morrisons. Neither quite meet their potential as more could have done more with these ideas. The songs are about the sick, the outcast and the dispossessed and the heroic efforts to save them. For Sophie pays tribute to Sophie Scholl, who campaigned against Hitler in Munich in 1943 and lost her life. Angel In A Blue Dress is about a nurse in the NHS battling against the cuts. I have often heard songs where the performers list the names of victims but they rarely work as I don’t think I have played them more than once. The song becomes a list rather than a narrative thread. By listing six people who died as a result of cuts in incapacity benefits, I feared that the title song wasn’t going to go anywhere, but then there are individual verses about separate victims and a fine chorus. It had the empathy of Streets Of London. By way of contrast, there is the idyllic New Brighton Girl, which oddly enough is the last place I saw Reg Meuross perform. I’ve just realised that I’ve written a five-star review for The Times They Are A-Changin’ but the Faraway People aren’t too far behind. Spencer Leigh Anthony Self release 17:42 On this five track EP The Masons prove themselves capable and with a lineup including piano, slide guitar, and banjo, the sound leans towards traditional. The songs are all covers and their version of Have You Ever Been Lonely? sets the scene rather nicely with a really nice traditional sound. Covering Kirsty McColl’s Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me Sonny Jim was a nice surprise and I suppose She’s Got You should almost be expected, but to include two Kacey Musgraves songs seems rather unnecessary. If The Masons want to cover all the bases and include some newer material alongside the classics I can’t help thinking that looking around a bit more might have been preferable. For that matter, maybe moving away from Patsy Cline territory wouldn’t be a bad idea either, especially when there are tons of Brenda Lee, Wanda Jackson, Jean Shepard, or even Bonnie Owens songs that would be less obvious. It’s early days for The Masons and this EP is really an introduction to the band. I’d like to think that going forward they’ll put a little more effort into their song choice and I look forward to their