ALBUM REVIEWS

YVONNE LYON - GROWING WILD

Growing Wild

A glance across the credits of Yvonne Lyon’s Growing Wild record suggests a couple of things. Firstly, her status as a songwriter and secondly the fun she must have had making the record.

Boo Hewerdine, Beth Nielson Chapman, Stewart Henderson, Julie Lee, Dan Wheeler and Yvonne’s hubby David all have co-writing credits. Add to them Eddi Reader and Eilidh Patterson and you see what I mean.

Any knowledge of these collaborators will also tell you a lot about the record. It is sublime, poetic, spiritual with great melodies, harmonies and meticulous playing.

Lyon has found this unique space for her art. It is without doubt rooted in her Scottishness. With always the hint of a wee Celtic lilt, she reaches beyond. Beth Nielson Chapman, Julie Lee and Dan Wheeler take her to Nashville. It is like she has thrown the blends into the old oak barrel, like some fine whiskey. Her voice is so smooth and warmly inviting.

The treatise here is about ageing. It is an honest approach. The questions and doubts and challenges. The hopes and yearnings for love and belonging. Yvonne’s maturing though is never about drifting. There is intentionality about these songs. Growing Wild has imagination and ambition.

Overall there it an album with an excess of successes and without fillers or failures. I particularly love Winter Ground, the Eddi Readeriness of Compass Hill and the mid 60s Beatly sounds of the title track.

Special mention though of the Stewart Henderson songs. Stewart is a poet. Amazing with words. Yvonne fits them in superbly. We Accumulate the Years has to be one of the best lyrics of growing older ever written. Astounding in profundity and tender in its beauty.


BEN GLOVER - SWEET WILD LILY

Sweet Wild Lily

I remember it so vividly. It was a hot June evening in Nashville back in 1998. I came out of my friend Gar Seeger’s house and as we walked to the car I was astounded in wonder at the fireflies. Not many of those bopping off County Antrim lawns.

My fellow County Antrim man Ben Glover must have seen many a firefly display since he moved to Nashville to write songs a number of years ago. Yet, perhaps it was a display during Covid-19 that awakened Glover to enough wonder for a song.

“All life’s a dance between the joy and the hurt” sings Glover and Fireflies Dancing is more about the chinks of light and love and carrying each other. There’s a wee thread of John Prine, who the Nashville songwriting community mourned recently and who featured on Captain’s Song (Sorley Boy) from Ben’s other band The Orphan Brigade’s album To The Edge Of The World.

The setting of that Orphan Brigade song is Glenarm Bay and I did notice that there is more ocean in Glover’s songs than the average Nashville writer. Sweet Wild Lily has waves too. Lily could be a buddy of Glover’s other character Carla Boone. Lily is a girl on the outside, a little lost and looking for a place to belong. Ben always bring a compassion to his writing that gives human beings like Lily their rightful holiness.

The other two songs on the Ep are older co-writes. Arguing With Ghosts should be familiar to those who know their Nashville songwriters. Written along with Gretchen Peters and Matraca Berg, Peters version appeared on her 2018 record Dancing with The Beast. It deals with the loss of the familiar.

Broke Down was another Peters collaboration, a song that has been sitting around for 7 years but Glover says that he finally found the right musical clothes to dress it in. It’s a song that you can almost watch being written on those long American highways between gigs. A song of disorientation and loss, like the opposite of By The Time I Get To Phoenix. He’s travelling. She’s left.

The Sweet Wild Lily EP is a treat. Glover had no intentions of releasing music in 2020 but lockdown upped the muse and the time to act on it. He’s self produced for the first time and with Colm McClean’s guitar playing they have discovered something fresh. Laurel Canyon Americana Ben describes it. 

For me Ben Glover’s writing gets better and better. That voice matures. The poetry gets more evocative. If you love the art of the song…

 

 

 

 

 

 


BEKI HEMINGWAY - EARTH & ASPHALT

Earh & Asphalt

From it’s first guitar riff there is something urgent and thrilling about Earth & Asphalt. The lead off track is a Birmingham is a cow-punk belter, taking you back to late 80s Lone Justice with, if anything, a little more verve.

If you see Beki Hemingway live, there is a guy always there beside her. Never underestimate him. He’s not just a strummer as Beki sings. Oh no. He’s the husband. He is also an astonishing guitar player.

For me Earth & Asphalt is Randy Kerkman’s finest moment and as a result Beki Hemingway’s too. A first run through took my breath away. Randy’s electric guitar is given free reign and comes across with  authority even on the less rocking tracks.

Then there are dobros and pal steel and baritone guitars giving these songs more of a rich resonance than on Beki’s previous work. Beki’s performances are a revelation too. That awesome voice reaches further and has moments when she sounds more Janis than Maria. I am loving it.

The songs? Well I thought their last record Whins and Weather was a songwriting triumph but for me this one is a life work. The lyrics are so poetic, so evocative, so wise in strong songs that have you rocking, waltzing and almost praying that any good American record should.

There is a lot of travelling on Earth & Asphalt. Birmingham and California are even song titles. The travelling though is not just across American and Irish highways. These songs are about the journeys of heart, soul and the ageing of life as well as bodies across maps. For a song about ageing look no further than Shape of My Face. The honesty, the insight and the spiritual contentedness oozes from Beki’s voice.

 

So here is the blond turning grey

Here is my heart growing more

All of the wisdom I gained

Is worth the tired and the sore

I see the way that nature rearranges

It’s easy to start longing for the past

I’ll watch myself weathering these changes

I’m fixing on the things designed to last

 

Wonderful…. And this is a record filled to the brim with all that flows from that realisation. It’s very very good!


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - LETTER TO YOU

Bruce

If we ever had the time again

Then I would make more time

In the meantime I’ll hear your whispering

In every Bruce Springsteen rhyme.

 

I wrote these words back in June when my friend Glenn Jordan died suddenly. It is still hard to take in. I attempted to capture Glenn in a poem that had me standing beside him, by his own secret gifting, watching Bruce Springsteen at the Kings Hall on a July afternoon in 2013. Glenn and our other mate Mark Houston were Bruce mega-fans. I wondered if I knew anything about Bruce at all when I was with them!

Not long after I wrote the words I heard there would be a new Springsteen album this year. I immediately considered what that would be like with out Glenn. As I listened to that record, as soon as it went on stream at midnight, I could hardly take in the extra poignancy.

 

The opening lines of the first song One Minute You’re Here:

 

Big black train comin' down the track

Blow your whistle long and long

One minute you're here

Next minute you're gone

 

The closing lines of the last song I’ll See You In My Dreams:

 

I'll see you in my dreams when all the summеrs have come to an end

I'll see you in my dreams, we'll meet again in another land

I'll see you in my dreams, yeah around the river bend

For death is not the end

And I'll see you in my dreams

 

Bless my soul. It wasn’t just that I was imagining Glenn’s thoughts about these songs. They almost became about him. If you’ve lost a fanatical Bruce fan in recent months this record is emotional, cathartic, and somehow with a little Springsteen genius, celebratory.

Bruce Springsteen has lost a lot of friends down the years. It is well known about the death’s of The E Street Band’s Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici but it seems that it was the death of George Theiss from Springsteen’s first band The Castiles that inspired Letter To You.

Letter To You is as urgent a record as Springsteen has made in decades. It is loud and raw and rocks out with only that opening One Minute You’re Here showing any reflective quiet.

Every other song sees The E Street Band let loose, tight as ever and playing to the very edge of full tilt. Letter To You is a bang bang bang of boom boom rock songs. There’s no let up and no desire to even get up to turn the vinyl over. It is as gripping from start to finish as any Bruce Springsteen album has ever been.

Now that doesn’t mean that it is the best Springsteen album though with an artist like Springsteen that is a futile venture. You can’t set 50 year’s of a catalogue side by side never mind the different genres and reasons to make albums that Springsteen has dabbled in.

Letter To You is not full of hit singles or songs crafted to a sheen. If ever a record needed listened to all the way through this is it. It sounds like a band becoming aware of their mortality and deciding to get together and have a big blow out before they get blown out. The fun of playing with mates is all over this record. There is an urgency in the joy of it in the midst of the grieving around them.

If it had come out 40 years ago who knows how many of these songs would still be in the set list but if this band can get out the other end of Coronavirus intact then these songs will fly off the stage on the next band tour. Letter To You, Last Man Standing, Land Of A Thousand Guitars, Ghosts and even Power Of Prayer are songs full of the joy of bands and music. Live? It’ll be something!

Of course I am now considering that if I should ever see this live in Belfast my friend Glenn will not be there to stand beside me and enjoy it. I hope though that as Bruce rejoices about life and celebrates the love of lost friends on the stage that we will all be part of that emotion in the crowd. Bruce has broken that barrier yet again. He has spoken for us and yes Glenn I hear you whispering… 

 

Ghosts runnin' through the night

Our spirits filled with light

I need, need you by my side

Your love and I'm alive.


TOM PETTY - WILDFLOWERS & ALL THE REST

Wildflowers

A few days into listening across the 4CD set that is Tom Petty’s remastered and reconfigured Wildflowers & All The Rest record and I am wondering if my favourite 3 Petty albums are right here in the one package! 

In 1988 I had heard rumours that Tom Petty was doing a side project without the Heartbreakers. I loved the Heartbreakers but I had this wee desire for a stripped back acoustic songwriter record. Much as I loved Full Moon Fever when it eventually appeared but it was different than I dreamed. 

As I listened to the All The Rest vinyl disc from Wildflowers & All The Rest I began to think that this was what I had wanted. Something Could Happen, Hope You Never and Hung Over and Overdue. It is not just Petty and an acoustic guitar but this is a raw honed songwriting that I don’t find anywhere in a Tom Petty catalogue that I love the vast majority of. 

There is something special about Wildflowers. I do love Full Moon Fever and actually when Jeff Lynne came back on board for Highway Companion I loved that too but Rick Rubin did something for Petty’s craft and muse. 

Apparently Rubin sent Petty away to listen to The Beatles Esher Sessions. These were the post Rishikesh songs that the band demoed at George Harrison’s house. As a result of their origins in India they were very acoustical based and that acoustic sound is all over the Wildflowers songs, particularly the ones that the band didn’t get as much time with.

Sometimes with artists with such longevity as Petty I find that some records found more traction than others, not because of the quality of the record but because of where my life or listening was just then. For me Long After Dark was somehow more a favourite than Wildflowers which is in retrospect is without Petty’s finest moment, even Petty himself agreed.

Whatever circumstances in my life (moving city and job maybe) that caused me not to connect with Wildflowers in 1994 is all for my benefit now. Oh I knew the songs - You Don’t Know How It Feels, You Wreck Me, the title track - I just didn’t know the entire record. So, now I am discovering my favourite Tom Petty record 25 years later than I should have.

As if to help me do it, Petty’s daughter has gifted us all the original Wildflowers record with 10 tracks All The Rest that should have been on it. I would love to have heard Petty's 1994 sequencing but hey. Then... there's more... another CD full of home recordings. After a listen to those Home Recordings I am actually thinking that the deluxe box set of Wildflowers now holds my favourite 3 Tom Petty records. 

These Home Recordings are not flimsy, half recorded sketches of songs we hear on the actual record. They are complete. They are of a high quality. That acoustic record I had longed for. Here it is. The harmonica on Only A Broken Heart and the piano on Wake Up Time remind me of Neil Young’s Harvest. Yet, the entire batch has its Beatles’ moments. Petty’s voice is totally committed and never so vulnerable. 

Then there is a live CD that brings it to Heartbreakers-ville. Oh yes, they all play on the actual Wildflowers record but when these guys took songs onto a stage they brought different incarnations, more jammed out, improvised, soul filled. 

My only annoyance is the delivery of this treasure trove. Double Cd. Triple LP. 4 CDs. 7 vinyl discs. 5 CD set. 9 vinyl discs and even an ultra deluxe version of the 9 vinyl.

This is the artist who is renowned and revered for challenging the price of an album back in the early 80s because he thought it might price fans out. Now he has his name to packages at $250 and $500. Come on.

Now, I know that Adria Petty has been meticulous in the packaging, which in every format is detailed and delicious, but as a big fan who has bought all Petty’s albums some on both CD and vinyl I would like all of his stuff and I cannot justify paying $100 for one extra CD for the 5CDs. If I did spend that money I couldn’t support other artists by being able to invest in their work. It is time to rethink these deluxe editions. 

Having said all of that, this is as good as box sets get. I cannot get enough of it. I’ve waited 32 years for these records. They are utterly wonderful.


HOW DO I BUY MUSIC?

Springsteen Letter To You vinyl

How do I buy music in 2020? It has become a dilemma.

Of course, the simple answer is that I do not need to buy music at all. Streaming has meant the listening to music is too easy and too cheap. 

I long for the good old days when I had to wait all year for my parents to take me on holiday to Edinburgh so that I could see a copy of All Things Must Pass never mind buy it. 

Saving pocket money… longing… searching… finally finding and buying and bringing home to take out of the sleeve and set the needle down… listening while gazing at the cover as if it was a scared relic.

It was as much about the collecting as the listening. Purchasing. Owning. 

That is partly why the streaming doesn’t satisfy. Oh I do it but for me that is like listening to the radio in order to hear what you might want to buy.

There is more though. I have also worked with musicians. Managed them in an amateurish way, booked them for festivals, played them on my radio show, interviewed them and reviewed their work. I value them. In recent lockdown I purposely bought vinyl and t-shirts and whatever in order to support artists. I want them to have a career so that they can make more of the music I like and not to force them into jobs that they are not made for.

So, I want to buy music. 

The problem is that at this moment in history the record companies are not making that easy.

The CD is on the wain. I used to have my collection insured for £30,000. It’s hardly worth a penny now. The only real place that I use CDs is in the car and a recent change of car means there is only one of our cars with a CD player. Functionally the CD is not how I should buy.

Vinyl is how I prefer to listen to music. Oh I was wooed by the CD. The sound was better and there were no skips. I tragically rid myself of my vinyl as I replaced them with CDs. For almost thirty years it was CDs.

I have been attracted in recent times back to vinyl again. The quality of the sound is so much superior than in the late 80s. The packaging is still the best. That collecting aspect comes into it. Setting the needle down and sitting back made the listening more quantifiable than listening off my lap top as I blogged!

Purchasing an mp3? Well I did for some years. Actually until very recently. Streaming made it stupid but I still wanted to support the artist. Then I started wondering if I did actually own the mp3. The packaging was nil and there was no collectors value.

I want to buy. It is in the artist and record company’s interest that I buy. Yet they are leaving me struggling.

Let me explain. It is my birthday at the end of the week. I want music. I always want music for Christmas and my birthday. Right now, there is music I want to collect. 

BUT…

The new Bruce Springsteen record Letter To You on vinyl is over £30. This is not a double album. £30. Oh the CD is £12 but that is neither functional or as satisfying. It doesn’t seem worth the extra £12 from streaming it. The vinyl hits the spot BUT I am being priced out of it for me. It is a rip off, with lovely etching on the vinyl or not!

Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, remastered and re-released with all the tracks that were left off in 1994. Not only do we now get the tracks omitted to make the record a single album but we can also get demos, alternative tracks and live versions. I can get all 54 tracks on CD for £35 but the vinyl of simply what the original album should have been is £32. To get all 54 tracks on vinyl comes in at £214! WHAT! That is an extra £182 for 29 extra songs. 

I could write more about the new John Lennon compilation too but you have the drift.

I think that I am the honest, industry supporting, collector that BMG and Warner Brothers want to target but as you can see they have me in functional and financial dilemmas that could leave me concluding that it is easier to stream. I am trying to discourage streaming. I am trying to maintain an industry I love BUT we need help coming the other way too.

In the meantime I am going to support more local acts who price their work carefully, so that they can make s living and also make their work affordable to fans. It is a particular joy when Bandcamp give us special days when they waver their cut and the artist take sit all. On days like that you I am more keen than ever to buy the slightly more expensive vinyl of artists like Malojian, Arborist, The Lost Brothers, Ciaran Lavery, David C Clements etc etc...


MICHAEL KIWANUKA - KIWANUKA

Kinawuka

There are a few things that make a record great for me. It’s good if it is eclectic, cohesive and thematic. It is good if it is beautiful, familiar in many ways but full of surprises.

Michael Kiwanuka ticks every box on his Mercury Music Prize winning album Kiwanuka. His third record is the culmination of the development in his imagination and musical implementation from his debut record Home Again through his second record Love and Hate. Home Again as an acoustic record in the traditional songwriter style, Love and Hate brought in electric guitars and riffs and grooves.

The third record simply called Kiwanuka has all of those albums and more. It is tender at times, riffed up at other times with all kinds of intricate little joins in-between. There are all the great influences - Curtis Mayfield, Pop Staples, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway and lashings of the psychedelic guitar sounds of Jimi Hendrix. Kiwanuka throws tablespoonfuls of all of these into the most original of rocked up concoctions.

For me, I am particularly chuffed that Kiwanuka won the Mercury Music Prize as I claim him as Ugandan. Soul Surmise readers know how dear that country is to my heart. Kiwanuka’s parents were Ugandan and left to escape the oppressive regime of Idi Amin. I happened to be in Uganda when Love and Hate came out and the location of first listens added resonance.

There is a personal introspection to Kiwanuka’s work. He has admitted to self doubt and naming the album after his surname is a statement of pride in who he is and has become. There is a spiritual light to his music too and he is a not without social critique and political comment. 

Kiwanuka is everything I look for in a great record.


SUZANNE VEGA - AN EVENING OF NEW YORK SONGS AND STORIES

Vega

It is hard to believe that music buyers in the mid 80s had such artistic taste that Suzanne Vega could have been a superstar. Her eponymous debut and Solitude Standing came at a time when the songwriter was back and Marlena On the Wall, Small Blue Thing, Left of Centre, Luka and Tom’s Diner some of them as double 7” and 10” vinyl singles gave her a celebrity status she had never imagined.

Though the significant album and singles sales decreased and Vega claims she could stand outside the window of a record store with her album in the window without being recognised the quality of her art has never wained. Check out the songs on her Tales From The Realm of the Queen Of Pentacles. It is still wonderful writing.

A lazy criticism of her last decade might be that Vega has milked her early years with her four CD Close Up series of reworked songs and a live concert of her most popular record Solitude Standing. Here’s another live record stacked with the hits. 

However, Vega is never lazy with how she packages these older songs. This is very evident indeed in An Evening of New York Songs and Stories. One night at New York’s Cafe Carlyle with three players behind her Vega uses her songs almost like a play that takes us onto the very streets New York City. 

We’re inside a flat on Marlena On The Wall, we’re in the stairwell on Luka, we are on Ludlow Street itself and into playgrounds on Freeze Tag. Then there are her critiques on New York New York Is A Woman and New York Is My Destination, the latter from her album about Southern gothic novelist Carson McCullers.

She adds a few lovely touch introductions and this is a resounding successful evening made album. Vega at her best, throwing songs from every era of her career, making them all better by the specific gathering. 


HOT PRESS'S RAVE ON VAN MORRISON COVERS SERIES - a Review

Van 75 Hot Press

I have had a late evening tradition for the past month. I have gone to the kitchen, set up my lap top, typed in Hot Press Van Morrison 75 and listened to Van Morrison songs covered by Irish artists that have been going up every evening. It has been an absolute joy and oftentimes revelation.

I have fallen in love with songs all over again, discovered ones that I haven’t given enough time to before and also been introduced to artists that I had never heard of. Ireland is crammed with excellent musical acts just now that it easy to miss a large dollop. 

Bronagh Gallagher’s The Healing Has Begun is for me the best of the entire batch, the way she grabs the soul of the song, throws in that Belfast accent and chats about listening to Van albums in the Holy Lands. 

Gary Lightbody, teaming up with my friends Iain Archer and Miriam Kauffman is a personal thrill and they takes Into The Mystic way out into the mystic. 

Joshua Burnside, currently the star in the northern sky shines bright in a transfixing version of You Don’t Pull No Punches But You Don’t Push The River.

Duke Special does Orangefield, actually in Orangefield, with feeling.

Dea Matrona’s Gloria is youthful energy with a whiff of teen female attitude and amazing playing that blows the Therapy version out of the water.

Another northern teenager Conor Marcus takes his 15 year old confidence and talent to conquer Rough God Goes Riding.

Tim Wheeler and Imelda May bring the best out of Jackie Wilson Says and Wild Night respectively.

Wookilily throw all their instrumentation and imagination at a Wavelength.

Moncrieff takes the pop hit accessibility of 1978’s Hungry For Your Love, also from Wavelnegth and gives it a sound for radio in 2020.

Damien Rice gets all the love that is in it out of Crazy Love.

Mary Coughlan’s smoky jazz seduction gives a sensuality to Warm Love.

Hozier can’t fail with that big voice on Caravan.

On spoken word President Michael D Higgins is for me more believable than either Terri Hooley or Paul Muldoon but Liam Neeson’s Ballymena accent (used for Aslan and therefore God) on David Lyttle’s Hyndford Street soundscape is a wonderful evening meditation of “Dreaming In God” any night for the rest of my life!

John Spillane gives that everyday ordinariness to Cleaning Windows

Jealous Of The Birds brings Saint Dominics Preview home from San Fransisco via Buffalo to Belfast city. 

Kaz Hawkins brings soul as needed to Full Force Gale. 

Jordan O’Keefe gives a gritty vocal to Real Real Gone.

Then there is a busker feel to Brand New Friend’s Wonderful Remark and Key West’s Come Running. Loose and full of Morrison-esque feel.

Altan’s Whenever God Shines His Light adds a spirituality that personally I believe Cliff Richard lost in the original release.

Celtic trad sounds gives fascinating angles to Martin Hayes Moondance, Moya Brennan’s Beauty Of The Days, Amberlight’s Celtic New Year and The Henry Girls These Are The Days.

A quick panorama of the entire catalogue and it becomes obvious how much artists love Astral Weeks and Veedon Fleece. 

Glen Hansard was a no brainer for the title track of Astral Weeks but Soak’s Beside You and Reevah’s Ballerina steal the show with their beautifully reflective transcendence. Jack L does a fine job with The Way Young Lovers Do and David Keenan’s quirky voice eeks the detail of Slow Slim Slider. I wasn’t sure about The Scratch’s Sweet Thing, The Hudson Taylor’s bite off more than they could quite chew on Cyprus Avenue and I thought Joy Crookes did a better Madame George than a favourite of mine, Luka Bloom.

Most popular of all, Veedom Fleece is the ultimate revelation. The current star in the sky Josh Burnside’s evocative voice brings a Van-ness to You Don’t Pull No Punches But You Don’t Push The River. Sinead O’Connor brings Sinead-ness to Who Was The Masked Man. Papenfus’s soulful Fair Play is perfect reinvention. Mick Flannery’s Linden Arden Stole The Highlights is earthed. Cairan Lavery gives an Aghalee feel to Country Fair. Little Hours emotional Streets Of Arklow, Gemma Hayes throws a female hue across Comfort Me, Cathal Coughlan does Come Here My Love and Ultan Conlan does Bulbs.

Night after night I have been impressed not only with the performances but about how strong and deep Morrison’s catalogue is.

Ultimately Liam O Maonlai put it perfectly as he introduces his deeply spiritual version of The Masters Eyes and thanks Van for “the access you have given us to a form of the divine… prayerful intimacy”.

Well done Hot Press. An amazingly creative way to celebrate Van Morrison’s 75th Birthday in Coronavirus Days. Now make them all   available on mp3 or vinyl for a homeless charity - NOW!


ANDY THORNTON - AGES

Andy Thornton

Andy Thornton was a major influence on my life. At a particular time in my following of Jesus he arrived like an angel beyond coincidence. He articulated many of my suspicions that I was heading down a narrow road but that it wasn’t the narrow road that Jesus said led to life, more the narrowness of the legalism that Jesus fought against. He widened my soul’s vision. He got me sacked from at least one PCI Youth Board committee but that is for another blog!

Andy even had a song that expressed that spiritual crossroads. Rage in The Darkness appears in the extra Cd available with Andy’s new record Ages. It’s remastering gives even more energy to the liberation that God’s love brings and critiques the counterfeit version “That leads me into slavery while promising to set me free…. It’s a rage, rage, rage in the darkness.”

Ages is Andy Thornton as we have always known him. If you took the lyrical poetry and near jazz styling of Bruce Cockburn and added an late 80s Scottish pop sheen you’ll get the idea. His own band of that time Big Sur were contemporaries of Deacon Blue, The Big Dish, Love and Money, The Bathers, Aztec Camera, The Pearlfishers et al.  Andy probably dreams of Cockburn’s literary genius and guitar virtuoso but then Bruce would have benefitted from Thornton’s voice and pop sensibility.

Ages is a record not so much about ageing as maturity. It is an album full of insights on life, love, mortality, travel and politics. The opening track might describe that freedom for spiritually more that Andy first inspired within my own soul:

 

Maybe the world is still out there? 

Maybe the keys are all inside?

Maybe we’re hiding them away?

Come on let’s climb every mountain, 

Let’s sail the ocean wide

Seek and you will find

Hide and you will seek nothing… and find it

 

Find Me In the Birdsong gives us Andy’s mission statement, “But I was born to sing of love and search the earth for meaning”. That is what Andy does in songs. Lahore Moon is a beaut about Andy’s work in far way places and the lessons he has learn from finding a wider perspective of living. 

This Time ,This Place, This Skin asks about the accidents of post code births and wrestles with how we can make the world more just. Blood Or Money asks what the driving force of our relationship with neighbour is and Cruel Britannia rages against an arrogant British psyche that works itself out in horrific treatment of other nations. 

All this objective surmising is wrapped around subjective songs of love and faith. In Falling Upwards with its title taken from a Richard Rohr book Andy is ever seeking growth in vulnerability:

 

No man is a strong as he may seem

Though some may learn the script 

and play the scene

But when the story falls apart

it takes a broken heart for new light to get in 

 

The extra CD makes the £10 price tag an utter bargain, a Thornton “Greatest Hits”. I have to confess I had forgotten how brilliant Rage In The Darkness, Stone Cold Winter, 21 and Heartbeat In Everything were. 

Ages has been a joy of summer listening with as much stimulating content as any good book.