Martin Simpson (4 stars)

Prodigal Son (Topic Records)

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Martin Simpson

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Like Christy Moore, Martin Simpson has an unconventional and idiosyncratic voice that is not technically great, but knocks spots of most of the competition in expressiveness and know-how. He has the priceless ability to make any song he sings his own, and delivers with undemonstrative authority and expressive power. His famed prowess on guitar (and banjo) is entirely evident, both on the instrumental tracks and when accompanying his excellent singing.

He ranges widely for material on this excellent disc, including several of his own songs. He is equally at home with a modern gem like Randy Newman’s ‘Louisiana 1927’, a classic American blues, or a gory traditional ballad like ‘Little Musgrave’ (Fairport fans will know its ‘Matty Groves’ variant) or ‘Andrew Lammie’. His collaborators include the great Danny Thompson on bass, Alastair Anderson on concertina, Andy Cutting on accordion, and Jackson Browne and Kate Rusby on backing vocals.

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