Forward and astern. Traditional and modern. Strange and familiar. Night and day. Near and distant. Old and new. East and West. Young and old. Multiple perspectives, each with their validity yet each also limited in the view they can afford. And still many of us cling desperately to one or the other pretending to be seeing some universal Truth that excludes others. Most of my adult life I tried to fight such tendencies within myself, a fight that I will no doubt lose one day as ideas harden to keep pace with the arteries. But meanwhile I soldier on, always looking for new recruits to take up the cause of observing ourselves from the outside and smiling (lovingly, always lovingly) at our anthropocentric veneer of self-importance.
Who will take my shilling?
The flood of songs in 2001 and 2002 is down to a controlled trickle now (controlled? Whom am I kidding? I don’t control any of it). With my initial objective of leaving something behind pretty much achieved already, these days it is either wistfulness or anger that mostly move me to new efforts, and that may show in the contents of this, the eighth album in eight years. Either that, or I am getting older and more ornery – please spare me the answer!
Once more I have others to thank for dressing up my ideas ready for an outing: Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer are even closer friends now, and in the words of an American performer on the folk circuit “the act that has advanced the most in the last two years”, as their album “Gleowien” proves. Yet they still humbly take on the role of my “Los Marbles” every time and lug keyboards and double bass around for my sake, in addition to their usual vanful of guitars, nyckelharpa, accordeon, smallpipes etc. They continue dissecting professionally my East-influenced time signatures and harmonies, and improving my West-centred ones, and do it all with their signature smiles, enthusiasm and natural empathy for music. Paul Sartin adds character with fiddle, oboe and Chor Anglais. Pete Flood makes cajon, Iraqi frame-drum and Udu pot speak the words I couldn’t write. Stuart, Paula, Sarah and Kathryn Tindall, lift the harmonies to soaring heights like colourful, sparkling kites riding the breeze.