Traditional and contemporary folk from the British Isles

MARTIN SIMPSON

MARTIN SIMPSON : PURPOSE + GRACE TSCD584

TSCD584Guitar virtuoso MARTIN SIMPSON returns with a fabulous new album. “Purpose + Grace, is in many ways the epiphany of his career. Martin has never chosen the shortest root to stardom but the choices he has made along the way have made him the exceptional talent that he is today.” ★★★★★ Folk Radio UK

Purpose + Grace takes its very apposite title from the great American songwriter Yip Harburg (composer of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime’ and ‘Only A Paper Moon’) – “I am one of the last of a small tribe of troubadours who still believe that life is a beautiful and exciting journey with a purpose and grace well worth singing about.”

The album marks a bold and confident step for Simpson. Building upon the strengths of Prodigal Son and True Stories, like a movie producer, he conceived the whole project over a number of months and then invited some of his favourite musicians to bring their stellar talents to the recording sessions. Jon Boden, B J Cole, Dick Gaughan, Fay Hield, Will Pound, June Tabor and Richard Thompson join Martin’s regular band – Andy Cutting, Andy Seward and Keith Angel – on an exemplary series of performances. The material shifts from Anglo-American ballads, Scots and English traditional songs to new compositions from Bruce Springsteen, Richard Thompson, the aforementioned Yip Harburg and Martin Simpson.

“It’s simply a great album from start to finish – wonderful tune, superb musicianship, star guests and a unity of purpose about delivering a fitting tribute to the music he loves that raises the album to such a high level.” ★★★★1/2 The Telegraph

“Martin Simpson has been a guitar hero, accompanist, folk singer and songwriter – and there are reminders of all these in what is surely his most commercial recording to date. It’s notable not just for his guitar and banjo playing and thoughtful vocals, but for the special guests who are often invited to sing lead vocals.★★★★ The Guardian

“Nothing rushed, nothing overdone, yet the playing remains astonishing.” ★★★★ Guitarist

“One of our finest traditional musicians, Simpson’s latest album offers a roving overview of his talents.” ★★★★ UNCUT

“The breadth of this album makes it a joy to listen to, I’d be very hard pushed to choose a favourite but there is no doubt in my mind that it is a five star classic album!” Folk Radio UK

“It may well be the best album Simpson has made in his entire career.” Newcastle Chronicle

“An album of great love and joy, Purpose + Grace confirms that Simpson remains at the top of his game.” Colin Irwin / BBC Music online

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MARTIN SIMPSON ~ PRODIGAL SON – THE CONCERT DVD TSDVD580 

With the release of Prodigal Son (winner of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award’s album of the year 2008) Martin Simpson created a contemporary classic that effortlessly crossed musical boundaries and exhibited what many had known for years – here is one of this generation’s most talented songwriters, singers and guitarists.

Here on this special DVD, Martin takes us on a 2 hour live journey through that album, expanding and reinterpreting as only he can – and throws in a few more tunes for good measure. Filmed at a special concert at the Union Chapel in London, this professionally shot DVD has superb 5.1 sound and looks and sounds great. Martin is on top form, with the DVD highlighting his virtuoso playing and also the quality of his collaborative work when he is joined by Andy Cutting on Diatonic Accordion, Andy Seward on double bass and Kelly While on backing vocals. The evening is topped off by a stunning version of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award’s song of the Year, NEVER ANY GOOD.

As an added bonus, there is a unique short film made by Martin called YOU CAN GO HOME retracing the steps of his youth under the shadows of the blast furnaces in his native Scunthorpe. It is both a revealing and, at times, highly humorous backwards glance.
Running time: 130 minutes, Cert E 
Recorded live at the Union Chapel, Islington, London, – 13th November 2007.

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TSCD410 JUNE TABOR with MARTIN SIMPSON ~ A CUT ABOVE

TSCD410 webThis album glows with the very special energy of a natural musical partnership, as June Tabor’s bold steps are faultlessly tracked by guitarist Martin Simpson. As well as compositions by Richard Thompson, Bill Caddick and other contemporary writers, Tabor offers a song in French, Le Roi Renaud.

June Tabor vocals
with
Martin Simpson guitar
Ric Saunders violin
Dave Bristow keyboards
Jon Davie bass

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MARTIN SIMPSON ~ THE BRAMBLE BRIAR TSCD513

Arguably the finest finger style acoustic guitarist on the planet, Martin Simpson returns to Topic Records after a break of almost fifteen years. Surprisingly, this is his first recording of exclusively English material – predominately traditional, completely English and totally outstanding. Martin Simpson’s guitar and vocals have never sounded better and classic traditional material is delivered in subtle and innovative ways.

Best Album of the Year & Instrumentalist of the Year – BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2002
• Included in the Mojo Magazine “Top 10 Folk Albums of 2001″
• “a musical genius at the height of his powers” folk buzz
“Simpson is a master of acoustic guitar styles. His supreme musicianship raises this CD of predominantly traditional and exclusively English songs to new heights.” Daily Telegraph

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MARTIN SIMPSON ~ TRUE STORIES TSCD578 

Everyone knows that Martin Simpson is one of the greatest guitarists in the world, combining immaculate technique with a highly musical sensitivity and sensibility.
Martin Simpson’s last album was a breakthrough, establishing him as a songwriter of real character and understanding as well as a master musician, propelling him to a new level in his career. Always energetic, always resourceful and never content to stand still, Martin continues to grow as an artist – musician and composer – putting his all into each new project, with the result that True Stories is his best album yet.

True Stories is evenly divided between traditional songs and tunes (English and American) and Martin’s original compositions. It ranges from solo guitar instrumentals to full band arrangements featuring some of the finest musicians anywhere: Danny Thompson on bass, Radiohead’s drummer Philip Selway, B J Cole on pedal steel, fiddle from Bellowhead’s frontman, Jon Boden and accordion from Andy Cutting …. and many others.

★★★★ Observer Music Magazine

“A very classy set” ★★★★ The Guardian

“True Stories is awash with things to admire and love.” Guitar & Bass Magazine

“Martin Simpson returns with an album that confidently walks a tightrope over the gulf between tradition and contemporary songwriting – this is folk at its finest” Sunday Mercury

“A very different animal to Prodigal Son, but in its own way, equally formidable. He sweeps from down’n’dirty to tender reflection in the blink of an eye” ★★★★ MOJO

“A guitar god in the US, Simpson has been blending folk and country blues for four decades. Danny Thompson and Radiohead’s Philip Selway are among his helpers on this tasty mix of trad and original material” ★★★ Q Magazine

“Featuring seven consummately crafted originals interspersed with six standards True Stories eclipses his 2007 masterpiece Prodigal Son in terms of execution and eclecticism” ★★★★★ The Australian

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MARTIN SIMPSON ~ VAGRANT STANZAS TXCD589

Deluxe limited edition 2CD set

Vagrant Stanzas is a splendid, intimate new recording from finger-style guitar maestro Martin Simpson. Encouraged by his near neighbour Richard Hawley, Martin set out to record his new album completely solo. The ambition was to record just one man and his guitar (or banjo) close-miked and personal. Most of the performances are first or second takes. So much material was recorded that the deluxe edition includes an extra CD of eight outtakes from the recording sessions – quite honestly they’d have made the cut on just about anybody else’s album.

“This is not a record of repairs and corrections, this is what I do at a gig. It’s the first time I’ve made a studio album which deliberately tries to capture the immediacy of a live performance…. in fact it is the intimacy of playing to a friend which is at the heart of this album.”

The album sees Martin collaborate with some of the best producers and engineers in the business, including multi-Grammy Award winning mastering engineer, Silas Brown. The CD has been co-produced by Martin alongside American producer Peter Denenberg and, our own Richard Hawley, who produced the UK part of the CD in Sheffield, at the legendary Yellow Arch Studios. Vagrant Stanzas is made up of a mixture of Martin’s original compositions, including a song commissioned by BBC Radio 2 for their award winning Radio Ballads series, alongside classic songs by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Chris Wood, Leon Rosselson and, of course, the ubiquitous ‘Anon’ of Folk ballad fame.

“One man with guitar and banjo and an acutely tuned ear for a good tune and a powerful lyric can certainly whip up a lot of different moods and styles. It’s all down to attitude.” fRoots

“There is a distinctive brilliance to Simpson’s guitar and voice – these are vocals from the back step, from the songs’ stark interiors, understood and played out by a man in the third age of life.★★★★ Songlines

“What you get is pure and fluent Simpson musicianship. A very fine record.” ★★★★ The Telegraph

CD 1
1    Diamond Joe
2    Jackie and Murphy
3    Shepherds Rejoice
4    Come Down Jehovah
5    Molly As She Swings
6    Palaces of Gold
7    Blue Eyed Boston Boy
8    Delta Dreams
9    Waly Waly
10    North Country Blues
11    Lorena
12    Lady Gay
13    Stranger Song
14    Come Write me Down

CD 2
1    Fair Annie
2    Kaga Re
3    Blind Willie McTell
4    Old Paint
5    The Bell
6    Diamond Joe
7    The Death of Queen Jane
8    The Green Linnet

With ‘Vagrant Stanzas’ Martin Simpson makes a career defining statement
- solo, intimate performances captured in a series of jewel-like recordings.

Order Vagrant Stanzas deluxe edition PURCHASE @ £15.00


MARTIN SIMPSON ~ RIGHTEOUSNESS & HUMIDITY TSCD540

“The nearest thing this country has to Ry Cooder” The Big Issue.

Released in August 2003, this follow up to the award-winning album The Bramble Briar is a collection of new recordings, this time drawn from the American tradition and featuring his unequalled instrumental and vocal ability. As Martin says in his album notes, this record allows him to tip his hat to the music and people of the Southern US, and features a mix of traditional song and Martin’s own compositions. Alongside his singing, Martin plays acoustic guitar, ukulele, electric guitar, lap-steel, percussion, 5-string banjo and slide guitar. Much of the album was recorded in New Orleans and he is joined by a crack team of local musicians. Steeleye Span’s Rick Kemp features on some of the tracks recorded in the UK.

“Martin Simpson demonstrates all over again that he is one of the great exponents of folk-blues guitar playing and his evocative vocal style fits the material perfectly.” The Scotsman
“Martin Simpson is a guitarist of extraordinary accomplishment and versatility – creates the sound-world in which dramas are played out….instrumental brilliance” ★★★★ Songlines
“16 wonderful and varied pieces – it is a hell of a musical experience – another stunning piece of work to cherish” Rogue Folk Magazine

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MARTIN SIMPSON ~ PRODIGAL SON TSCD567

With Prodigal Son Martin Simpson has made what is undoubtedly his finest recording to date. The album reflects the full breadth of his creativity, drawing on both British and American traditions as well as including several of his own outstanding compositions.
Many of Martin’s good friends and favourite artists appear with him on the album, including Jackson Browne who adds a perfect harmony vocal to Martin’s beautiful version of Randy Newman’s Louisiana 1927. Kate Rusby and Kellie While sing sublime harmonies on two of the tracks – Never Any Good [Martin’s song for his father] and Batchelor’s Hall. The album is further enhanced by Danny Thompson on bass, Andy Cutting on accordion, Alistair Anderson on concertina and Northumbrian pipes and Barry Philips on cello.

  • “A modern masterpiece. This remarkable collection of fifteen songs and tunes which, by any measure, is the best album that Simpson has recorded to date – he has produced a near-flawless folk masterpiece.” Sydney Morning Herald
  • “Prodigal Son is a triumph” Verity Sharp, BBC Radio 3 Late Junction
  • “The [album] has range, a relaxed mastery and emotional depth – this is roots music at its richest.
” ★★★★★ The List
  • “A quiet masterpiece. There are classic English ballads, excursions into Americana and a clutch of open-hearted originals- resulting in an album of easy elegance.” ★★★★ Observer Music Monthly

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MARTIN SIMPSON ~ VAGRANT STANZAS TSCD589

Vagrant Stanzas is a splendid, intimate new recording from finger-style guitar maestro Martin Simpson. Encouraged by his near neighbour Richard Hawley, Martin set out to record his new album completely solo. The ambition was to record just one man and his guitar (or banjo) close-miked and personal. Most of the performances are first or second takes. So much material was recorded that the deluxe edition includes an extra CD of eight outtakes from the recording sessions – quite honestly they’d have made the cut on just about anybody else’s album.

“This is not a record of repairs and corrections, this is what I do at a gig. It’s the first time I’ve made a studio album which deliberately tries to capture the immediacy of a live performance…. in fact it is the intimacy of playing to a friend which is at the heart of this album.”

The album sees Martin collaborate with some of the best producers and engineers in the business, including multi-Grammy Award winning mastering engineer, Silas Brown. The CD has been co-produced by Martin alongside American producer Peter Denenberg and, our own Richard Hawley, who produced the UK part of the CD in Sheffield, at the legendary Yellow Arch Studios. Vagrant Stanzas is made up of a mixture of Martin’s original compositions, including a song commissioned by BBC Radio 2 for their award winning Radio Ballads series, alongside classic songs by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Chris Wood, Leon Rosselson and, of course, the ubiquitous ‘Anon’ of Folk ballad fame.

“One man with guitar and banjo and an acutely tuned ear for a good tune and a powerful lyric can certainly whip up a lot of different moods and styles. It’s all down to attitude.” fRoots

“There is a distinctive brilliance to Simpson’s guitar and voice – these are vocals from the back step, from the songs’ stark interiors, understood and played out by a man in the third age of life.★★★★ Songlines

“What you get is pure and fluent Simpson musicianship. A very fine record.” ★★★★ The Telegraph

CD 1
1 Diamond Joe
2 Jackie and Murphy
3 Shepherds Rejoice
4 Come Down Jehovah
5 Molly As She Swings
6 Palaces of Gold
7 Blue Eyed Boston Boy
8 Delta Dreams
9 Waly Waly
10 North Country Blues
11 Lorena
12 Lady Gay
13 Stranger Song
14 Come Write me Down

Order Vagrant Stanzas standard edition PURCHASE @ £12.00


TSCD430 MARTIN SIMPSON ~ THE COLLECTION

TSCD430 webThis collection, drawn from Martin Simpson’s three earliest Topic albums, finds him working both solo and with other musicians in a variety of inventive settings.

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MARTIN SIMPSON ~ KIND LETTERS TSCD553

Martin Simpson says of this release, echoing the words of the writer Kazuo Ishiguo, “Traditional music is a treasure chest waiting to be opened”, and he was never more aware of the beauty and the value of the contents of that hoard than in the process of making this recording. Kind Letters is a kind of follow-up to the his award-winning 2001 release The Bramble Briar (TSCD513) in that he has chosen songs largely from the English repertoire – some of which have been with him for as long as he can remember.
Martin’s unequalled talents on guitar, banjo and vocals are joined by a host of outstanding musical accompanists including Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Chris Parkinson and members of the celebrated Irish group, Danu.

• Top 10 Folk/World Album of the Year 2005 Record Collector
“Simpson is one of the UK’s finest folk musicians, and his unique gift is to bring to bear the kind of fluid forward motion usually associated with American acoustic music on the more strident shapes of British traditional song. Kind Letters is full of spectacular moments.★★★★ Sunday Times
“Although it’s his guitar virtuosity that’s frequently lauded, it’s as an interpreter of song that Martin Simpson really scores. Simpson delivers narratives with colour and conviction. Fittingly be-gonged several times at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Martin Simpson is taking his place, not just as a hero for guitar-besotted acolytes but as one of the national treasures of English traditional music.” BBC Radio 2 Folk & Acoustic Reviews
“He (Martin) has surely scarcely been in such a rich vein of form as he is now. The last couple of albums were both special…but with Danu – as well as Chris Parkinson, James Fagan and Nancy Kerr – co-opted as a backing band, this takes it somewhere else again. It’s a tender, emotional, profoundly moving album that portrays the immense reach of traditional balladry.” fROOTS
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