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Riverboat Records TUGCD1128 

So, here’s cause for rejoicing – in celebration of 50 years since his debut LP, An Acoustic Confusion, here’s a new album by one of the key singer-songwriters of our age, recorded in “such times” as these, in lockdown conditions, with the intuitively sympathetic support of top-drawer fellow-musicians Hugh Bradley and David Crickmore (the latter also responsible for engineering and production). All the trusty Tilston trademarks are here – intelligent, thoughtful descriptive writing hand in hand with articulate and ever-perceptive commentary, supported by confidently expressive singing and beautifully subtle, immaculately turned musicianship (with Steve’s new self-designed Brooks “Calder” guitar firmly in the spotlight!).

While this latest collection of mostly brand-new songs carries the expectedly wide stylistic range and embraces familiar themes, its execution is supremely skilled and the lyrical invention freshly minted, thus its generous 64-minute duration passes quickly and the immediate reaction is to go back and reprise a good number of the tracks! Personal highlights on first playthrough include Satellites Decree (which parallels a walk through Steve’s adopted Calder Valley landscape with a drive home from a gig); the 5/4-metred Where Your Mark Remains (“a song for those whose passing has left a mark”); the evocative instrumental, Four Corners; the observational vignette, There’s A Man; the compassion-filled It’s A Crying Shame; and Little Flame (which conveys the special and uniquely uplifting effect of music on small children). The album also contains a magnificent reworking of Waters Of March by the Brazilian songwriter, Antônio Carlos Jobim, alongside inspired revisits of two of Steve’s own compositions, notably a sprightly honky-tonk/western-swing-tinged take on his WAZ-era classic, Dust From My Heels.

An important and unmissable set in Steve’s canon, Such Times demonstrates par excellence that his status as a world-class singer-songwriter-guitarist is assured as his powers remain undiminished.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 138 of The Living Tradition magazine