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Topic Records TXCD598 

A new Martin Simpson album is never to be overlooked, and here we also have a ‘bonus’ album. The first – the Rooted – album of 13 tracks shows Simpson’s range and styles. From classic folk songs to contemporary writings, his engagement with the songs is absolute and his extraordinary instrumental virtuosity adds to the fascination of the experience of the listener. It is the experience perhaps that draws you in. This could never be background music: it is immediate and commanding.

The second album – Seeded – offers a further seven tracks, all of which are instrumental, and two of which are reworkings of the first CD tracks: Queen Jane and Who’s Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot? - music as diverse as A Blues and, with Andy Cutting on melodeon, Bonny Kate!

For me, the notes that an artist chooses to include in the package are important. Most usually, they are notes about the source of the song. But here, in an eight-page booklet, these are not by-the-way comments on song origins but are almost a comprehensive stream of consciousness illuminating the man, his music and his relationship with each track. Who could ask for more? I recommend these albums as an essential addition to any library.

Tom Brown


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine