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MEGSON - The Longshot

The Longshot
EDJ Records EDJ016

Husband and wife duo Stu and Debbie Hanna's fourth album is a treat. It consists largely of songs about working life in the North-East, and they concentrate less on their virtuosity as musicians, more on telling their stories and giving the songs room to breathe. Both more than capable on their instruments, they are also fine singers, Debbie classically trained and Stu a former punk. The contrast makes for an exciting combination.

They have the same reverence for their neck of the woods as Show of Hands do for the West Country. And you get the same feeling as you do from Knightley and Beer. A sense of place.  A sense of tradition.  A sense of meaning.  All music is by Megson and some lyrics are traditional, some by 19th century writers and some are their own.

There are plenty of delightful songs, such as The Cab Man, by George Ridley, who wrote Cushie Butterfield; Working Life Out and the haunting The Old Miner (both trad); or Megson's own The Longshot, about the vagaries of supporting your local football club, or Last Man in the Factory about a failed business.

The tone is largely sombre, so it's perhaps not an album you would want to play at a kids' party or to dance to, but if you want an enjoyable, entertaining and engaging 45 minutes, you won't be disappointed. And you'll soon be singing along. Stu's impeccable production is a bonus.

Graham Gurrin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.