Rooted (Deluxe 2CD set)

Martin Simpson

Rooted (Deluxe 2CD set)
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Rooted (Deluxe 2CD set)

Martin Simpson

Following on from 2017’s unanimously-acclaimed, Trails & Tribulations, comes Martin Simpson’s 21st solo album of folk, blues and Americana. Featuring special guests John Smith, Nancy Kerr, Andy Cutting, Dom Flemons, Ben Nicholls and Richard Hawley.


Summing up the themes of his new album, Martin says: “The music and songs embrace nature and travel, mental health, real life stories, loss, politics and history… and the threads that bind all this together can be followed back a long way, to 1965 when I got my first guitar and started to soak up material and ideas at a very rapid rate.”

Rooted features an array of stellar guest musicians, including Nancy Kerr (fiddle and viola), Andy Cutting (melodeon and diatonic accordion), Liz Hanks (cello), John Smith (electric guitar and vocals), Ben Nicholls (string bass and electric bass guitar), Julie Matthews (vocals), Alan Barnes (clarinet), Max Simpson (vocals), Amy Smith (vocals), Chris While (vocals) and Tom A Wright (drums and percussion). Richard Hawley and Dom Flemons contribute backing vocals and bones respectively to first single ‘Neo'. As well as vocals, Martin himself plays banjola, 5-string banjo, 6-string fretless banjo, electric bass guitar and electric and resonator guitars!

Deluxe 2 CD package includes a bonus disc of instrumentals, Seeded.

Track listing:

(CD1) 1.Trouble Brought Me Here 2.Kimbie 3.Born Human 4.Ken Small 5.Hills Of Shiloh 6.Henry Gray 7.Who’s Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot? 8.Queen Jane 9.Joe Bowers 10.Fool Me Once 11.Kingfisher 12.Neo 13.More Than Enough

(CD2 Bonus Disc) 1.Arbutus Turnaround 2.A Blues 3.Bonny Kate 4.Mama, It Ain’t Long 5.Queen Jane (Instrumental) 6.Waenglapiau 7.Who’s Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot? (Instrumental)

Review

Martin Simpson has been a key player in the UK folk scene since his 1976 debut album, Golden Vanity. Since then, he has become a top-flight acoustic guitarist. He made a number of very fine albums with British singer June Tabor, and in the late ’80s he moved to America and has incorporated more traditional U.S. music into his work than many of his contemporaries. He has also produced a series of instructional materials for guitar playing.

His latest album, Rooted, combines folk, blues, Celtic and Americana elements. The superb production by Andy Bell (a former member of Oasis) brings out all the power of Simpson’s playing. It accentuates his flowing fingerpicking, slide, banjo, percussive effects and extensive use of open tunings. Simpson has sourced his material for this album widely, from Woody Guthrie to folk legend Hedy West. Like Ry Cooder before him, Simpson has integrated traditional music so thoroughly with his own songs that they ring with authenticity. Simpson continues to develop his singing and storytelling skills and has some fantastic musician friends he can call upon to enrich his own sound.

For listeners who would like to hear more of his dynamic solo playing, the deluxe version of Rooted includes Seeded, a seven-track CD of instrumentals. There is also an excellent seventeen-track introduction compilation.


Paul Barr is a music specialist at Readings Carlton.

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