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RICHARD GRAINGER - Hard Road To Prospect Hill

RICHARD GRAINGER - Hard Road To Prospect Hill
Klondike Records KCD010

This is a refreshing selection of songs from this stalwart of the North of England folk club scene. Eleven original songs and a nice reworking of the traditional Bushes & Briars are here gathered in a canny set that sums up his current live set. Included here is his trademark Death Of Nelson, which is so well constructed it could have been filched from a contemporaneous broadside. Flower Of Norton Hill reminds us that we all can be moved by a simple love song to a partner. Stepping Stones is a stark telling of a revenge murder, described with forensic detail that is simply stunning. The cornerstone, though, is the opening track, Girl On The Scarborough Shore, an epic of nearly nine minutes which is a song of regret for a lost love, sacrificed by a young man’s wanderlust.

Chris Parkinson provides box accompaniment throughout which is tasteful always, but never overpowering, and Helen Lancaster’s fiddle is worthy of a special mention, but this is an artiste who is perfectly at home with only his own guitar accompaniment and is able to deliver songs that tell intense stories that captivate. Co-producer Oliver Knight, with RG himself, can be proud of this album. A full 70 minutes of carefully constructed and expertly delivered passion, and nicely packaged to boot. Good to hear that he’s still writing songs that matter, and performing them with gusto. Nice one. It’s also nice to know that he’s got a busy festival season on the cards, so catch him when you can. On this showing he is still as captivating as ever.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.