Release Date: Oct 18, 2011
Record label: Topic Records
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. There's only one new Simpson song here, a poignant tribute to a 50s Kentucky banjo player, and one new instrumental, inspired by Mike Waterson.
After his late 2000s double whammy of Prodigal Son and True Stories revitalized his lengthy career, British folk singer/songwriter Martin Simpson's 18th solo studio album, Purpose & Grace, could be seen as a step backwards, having only put pen to paper himself twice on its 13 tracks. But joined by an impressive who's-who of traditional British folk, its eclectic array of songs, spanning from the 17th century (Scottish ballad "Barbry Allen") right up to the mid-'90s (Bruce Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad outtake, "Brothers Under the Bridge"), ensures that it's no ordinary covers album. The likes of the June Tabor duet, "A Strange Affair," is an emotive update of the Richard Thompson classic they performed together on her 1980 album, A Cut Above, and a country-tinged reworking of Irish folk song "The Lakes of Ponchartrain" (which previously appeared on 1985's Sad or High Kicking) may already be familiar to longtime fans.
Confirms that Simpson remains at the top of his game. Colin Irwin 2011 One of the most impressive things about Martin Simpson’s Indian summer is his willingness to keep ringing the changes and refuse to settle for a winning formula. Decorated with awards for his previous two albums, Prodigal Son and True Stories – both of which broke new ground for him and were, in their own ways, strikingly different – the great guitar and banjo stylist moves on again.