John Tams "Home" TSCD533

"That difficult second album", notes John Tams on the inlay; you can almost see the lip curl ironically. One supposes that even folk gods must wonder whether they can live up to a first solo CD like "Unity". Mind you, Rifleman Hagman's not taking too many chances; the disparate band pulled together for that masterpiece - Keith Angel, Barry Coope, Alan Dunn, Andy Seward, Graeme Taylor - are back for "Home", which Tams dedicates to "all those who are denied experience of the word" in all its multifarious meanings. The inlay features moody shots of Tams in close-up or longshot, glasses/no glasses, gazing into the middle-distance on a moorland/forest track. It's a fair reflection of the predominantly sombre ambience of the songs themselves, even though some of them, such "You Don't Know Me Anymore" rock out very satisfactorily, briefly recalling The Home Service. There's a nod to the tradition in the shape of "Hugh Stenson & Molly Green" (with additional lyrics by Tams), a tale of desertion, love and death. Love (and the death of love) are never far away; love may "keep me right on line" and its prospect may constitute the incentive to be "underneath the mirrorball - the real home of the free", but all too soon it degenerates into recrimination that "you don't know me anymore" and regret that "I should have said sorry but I didn't know how". Gather ye "sex and sedition" while ye may; "sooner than you think the passing bell". "Home" consolidates Tams' reputation as one of our greatest living songwriters. He relishes the concept that "home", like love, may well be both "a smoking gun" and "where a future calls" and that this essential paradox must be embraced if one is to be fully human. "Hey, but it's alright, Ma/It's life and life only."

Dave Tuxford

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.