Martin Simpson - Kind Letters

Topic - TSCD553

This offering is yet another stormer from the nimble fingers of Mr S, nowadays so steeped in the English tradition that it's easy to forget his previous incarnations that showcased his love of American blues and songwriters (including Randy Newman, Bob Dylan et sequentes). His recent rediscovery of the banjo, thanks to Ron Saul, has given a dimension to his work I thought I wouldn't hear again - and is ideal for songs such as House Carpenter.

Martin's guitar features more tunings than a Carthy album, (6 over 12 tracks, none of which are conventional - although I'm sure MC has been an influence via the Martins 4 tours (certainly Adieu, Adieu came from the other Martin, and indeed the use of his studio).

As always, Martin's sleeve notes are comprehensive and indicate the provenance of each item, for the benefit of those that scour album sleeves for such info, as if the provision of the same reinforces the songs' appearances on this circle of plastic as additional stages in the oral tradition. As it happens, the fact that this CD should sell by the bucket load makes it largely irrelevant - the tradition is still alive and well in Scunthorpe, and in a safe pair of hands.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 61 of The Living Tradition magazine.