Martin Stephenson & Jim Hornsby – Bumper Brown

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Martin Stephenson & Jim Hornsby
Bumper Brown
Barbaraville Records

Two old friends make music in the corner of your sitting room  

Martin Stephenson must be one of the most prolific singer-songwriters in the music industry and because he’s no longer bogged down by the vagaries of Record Labels he can make and release albums when the mood or muse takes him.

For BUMPER BROWN he has got together with long-term friend and occasional band member Jim Hornsby to record some songs and tunes in the Skip Records Studio ‘just because they could’ and the result is wonderful.

Because Martin has recorded more songs than you can shake a stick at, it’s difficult to know which songs here are new and which are old so you will have to take each one on its own merits.

Opening song, Bluebells is a gentle swinging Folk tune that wouldn’t be out of place on a back porch in Georgia or the back room of a pub in North Yorkshire and Jim Hornsby’s sweet guitar playing puts a lot of ‘greats’ to shame.

I did recognise Absent Fathers from The CHURCH and THE MINIDISC (2000) and it is not only classic MG Stephenson but the sentiment has stood the test of time.
By nature I’m no lover of traditional Folk music but when it’s as good as The Cromarty Rag and Hells Half Acre I could easily become a convert.

Two Martin Stephenson ‘signature’ songs get a makeover here with Lilac Tree from the album of the same name becoming a 7 minute epic; but for me it could have gone on even longer, such is its simplistic beauty and one of my favourite songs of all time, Left Us To Burn written as a result of Thatcher’s attitude to the North East of England gets a similar treatment and is just as biting today as the day it was written.

As Martin points out in the sleeve notes, all songs were ‘first take’ so there are mistakes here and there and also occasional asides from the man himself (calling Hornsby the last of the ‘Romantic Guitarists’) are left in for posterity and only go to add to the charm of this delightful record.

Barbaraville Records

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