Release Date: Sep 17, 2013
Record label: Topic
In 2011, guitarist and songwriter Martin Simpson released Purpose + Grace, an album where he surrounded himself with friends from the fertile British folk scene. Vagrant Stanzas stands in sharp contrast. He performs it completely solo, singing, playing guitar, banjo, or both -- though there are a few overdubs. Simpson credits his neighbor, songwriter Richard Hawley, with this tack, inspired by evening song-swapping sessions at the kitchen table in Sheffield.
Coined in the 20s by Kentucky singer Buell Kazee, “vagrant stanza” was another term for the “floating verses” that appear in certain versions of traditional songs. It’s a particularly germane title for Martin Simpson’s new work, as it reflects the singer-guitarist’s gathering-together of his wide influences in a way that’s meant to represent him in a small club concert. Widely revered as one of the best acoustic and slide players in the folk world, Simpson has chosen from the songs and tunes floating around his head and recorded them as intimately as if he were in your front room.
Martin Simpson returns to basics. Two years ago, with his Purpose + Grace album, he surrounded himself with guests from the British folk scene, but now he shows off his guitar, banjo and vocal skills in an intimate but varied solo set. The tracks here range from self-written songs to re-interpretation of other people's work, British and American traditional material and elaborate instrumentals.