Good Will Factory
Sweet and Gentle Americana From Scotia via Geordieland.
I’m not sure which amuses me more; acts that only release an 8 track album every 3 or 4 years; or the likes of Martin Stephenson who can knock out an outstanding and literate album every six months without ever repeating himself!
I’ve genuinely lost track of the amount of albums he’s released in his career; but I did know that whatever direction he was going in here; I was pretty much guaranteed a lovely few hours listening to him and his songs.
To all intents and purposes Martin is found dabbling in down-home Americana here; alongside two precious purveyors of that very genre, Rupert Hughes and Niles Krieger from friends of RMHQ The Kentucky Cow Tippers and the delectable Anna Lavigne too.
The album starts with the divine and winsome Early Morning Drive; which features some delightful shuffling drumming, harrowing fiddle and mandolin playing that complements Martin’s gorgeous love song.
Martin turns the loving relationship on its head on the next track, Baby Come Home and you would swear that this group were standing on a porch overlooking an Appalachian vista rather than a back street in Newcastle were it actually was recorded; and if there’s a finer description in 2022 of how it feels to be in love than this song; then I look forward to hearing it.
As a certified non-musician I’m always fascinated by how songwriters can come up with brand new ideas for songs that describe the emotional psyche without repeating themselves or even stealing ideas from their contempories; and young Mr Stephenson is a verified Master Songsmith in my humble opinion.
You just have to listen once to the charming To The One and/or Sweet Lady to have to sit in awe at the skills that have gone into creating these wonderfully astute love songs.
Baring in mind there are only ever four people on this recording the harmonies on McFie somehow sound like a whole choir is involved.
While the subject matter is diametrically different from the rest of the songs here; New Wave Dave still manages to sound like something you’d hear in an Alabama Honky Tonk on a Saturday night, and not be disappointed.
As a long term fan, I/you will know that the likes of The Most Peculiar Man will have a backstory about a real person in Martin’s life that will evolve as he adds this to his regular concerts; but his skills with words mean that we can all hear it and think he’s singing about someone who has touched our own lives at one time or another.
It’s no longer easy selecting a Favourite Song on a Martin Stephenson album; as each and every track touches you like a Mother’s gentle hand …. but the gentle Western Swing of Haunted Highway, with Twang guitar and creamy harmonies has to be a stand out; as does the raw and punchy I’m Already Gone; which has an MG Stephenson hallmark writ large all over it.
But; there is are two other songs that has really touched my heart and can comfortably sit alongside all those Daintees Classics from our younger days; the first is the brittle and beautiful Blue Child and the other Sweet Lady; which could easily be about a daughter, lover or even Mother depending on how you interpret the words. Hence Sweet Lady is my Favourite Song by an inch at the tape.
How Martin George Stephenson of Brady Square Parish manages to continue turning out songs of this quality on such a regular basis after 40+ years I will never know; perhaps he did a deal with the Devil at the crossroads in Washington Village; or perhaps he’s just damn good at what he does.
Released 17th January 2022
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