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Reg Meuross RAW – Review, Morning Star

Kevin Bryan (Morning Star etc) delivers his verdict on RAW.

“RAW represents the final collection in a trilogy of essentially solo recordings from an artist who is unquestionably one of the finest singer-songwriters that this country has spawned during the past four decades. If there was any justice left in this benighted world Reg Meuross‘ unashamedly poetic musings on contemporary life and the human condition in general would be required listening for roots music enthusiasts everywhere, with tracks such as “Broken,” “The Chainmakers ” and the sadly all too timely “We Looked Away” capturing the essence of his intimate and affecting approach to music making.”

LAUNCH GIG The Cockpit, London. Saturday 5th Oct TICKETS http://bit.ly/RegRawAlbumLaunch

#RAWTour regmeuross.com/events

ORDER THE CD http://bit.ly/RegRawCD

Reg Meuross RAW Review – folking.com

by Mike Davies

“….sometimes tall tales are preferable to reality because, as he sings “if he’s selling stories I’m buying/Cos there ain’t enough dreams on this trail”. You would do well to invest in Reg’s.” https://folking.com/reg-meuross-raw-hatsongs-hat021/

LAUNCH GIG The Cockpit, London. Saturday 5th Oct TICKETS http://bit.ly/RegRawAlbumLaunch

#RAWTour regmeuross.com/events

ORDER THE CD http://bit.ly/RegRawCD

Reg Meuross RAW Review – Folk Radio UK

By David Pratt

“Meuross again shows his songwriting finesse as he almost imperceptibly transitions from the historical to the modern-day with rapier-like skill.” FULL REVIEW HERE

Order CD HERE

LAUNCH GIG The Cockpit, London. Saturday 5th Oct TICKETS http://bit.ly/RegRawAlbumLaunch

#RAWTour regmeuross.com/events

ORDER THE CD http://bit.ly/RegRawCD

Album launch at Cockpit Theatre HERE

Reg Meuross 12 Silk Handkerchiefs – album review by Folking.com

“A finely spun tribute… rich in honest emotion, deep humanity, resonant lyrics and infectious melodies.”  FULL FOLKING.COM REVIEW BY MIKE DAVIES HERE.

2019 FULL SHOW TOUR DATES HERE

This is not your typical Reg Meuross album. Not that it doesn’t have his consummate songwriting with its finely crafted melodies and emotive resonance and not that it isn’t beautifully sung; it’s just that, while he features on backing, Reg only sings two tracks. It is, in fact, a concept album, a song cycle about the Hull triple trawler tragedy when, in 1968, bad weather sank three separate trawlers in less than a month, with only one survivor from the total crew of fifty-nine men.

The album is based on Brian W. Lavery’s book, The Headscarf Revolutionaries, which documents the subsequent campaign of Lillian ‘Big Lil’ Bilocca, one of the trawlermen’s wives and her friends to bring about changes in the fishing industry. As such, it comprises both song and spoken word, the narration delivered by Lavery himself, while Hull folk singers Sam (as in Samantha) Martyn and Mick McGarry provide both vocal and spoken tracks.

There’s six songs, each preceded by Lavery’s scene setting, opening with the waltztime shanty ‘Wash Her Man Away, McGarry on vocals, Meuross providing harmonies and acoustic and Martyn on harmonium, a number rooted in superstitions about bringing back luck, here a meticulously tidy housewife not doing the laundry on the day before her skipper husband sets sail, the lyrics evoking such portents as the men leaving their small change behind.

The intro to ‘I Am A Fish House Woman’ conjures the fellowship of the women in the cold of the fish processing plant, detailing the work, talk of missing ships and introducing Lily, on her last shift for two years. This time, it’s Martyn on vocals, Meuross on strummed dulcimer, for a six minute, chorus-friendly anthem to the women, the conditions they work under (“my mother was a skinner ‘til the freezing took her lung”) in their nine-hour day, slicing the ‘silver darlings’ and how, while the men are away “fighting for their lives, we’re fighting for their rights”.

Sung heartbreakingly in the first person, ‘John Barry Rogers’ recounts the story of the eighteen-year-old deckhand who, when their ship went down in an Atlantic storm, saved the life of first mate Harry Eddom, the sole survivor, getting him onto the raft, before dying of exposure. Backed by harmonium and guitar, McGarry again sings lead on a classic Meuross lyric as the doomed boy talks of his mother and sweetheart, left behind in the siren call of the sea.

As you might guess, one of the two tracks sung by Meuross, ‘The Man The Sea Gave Back’, turns the focus on Eddom, a flavour of early Dylan to its brisk strum with Martyn adding flute, as he sings of Eddom watching the other two survivors eventually fall victim to the cruel sea.

Both the narrative and the lyrics to ‘Sleep You Safely’, sung by Martyn, turn the spotlight back on Bilocca, who was ejected from the campaign group she’d founded after appearing on the Eamonn Andrews show when, asked how the men spent their time on shore, talked of the single ones going to the pub “with their tarts”, a term that had a different meaning back home at Hessle Road to the one the studio audience assumed. The men she’d fought for also turned against her after a ban on fishing in bad weather meant they lost catches to Icelandic trawlers, but counterpointed by a meeting with a young galley boy on her way back from the meeting.

A melancholic, slow paced number, again featuring one of Meuross’s trademark uplifting choruses, it gives way to the lilting title track, the intro noting how, after her husband’s death, Lily moved home to a council house, weighed down by her treatment by the media and the feeling of being abandoned and her fight ignored, falling into ill health and eventually dying of cancer at 59 in 1988.

The title refers to her last request to her daughter to buy the handkerchiefs which, on the day before she died, she handed out to all those who had looked after her. Sung by Meuross with Martyn and McGarry on harmonies, the simply strummed song itself takes a more metaphorical approach, the handkerchiefs also symbolic of, as the chorus notes, the months of the year, “the twelve holy fisherman keeping her loved ones from fear” and “all the company men In their temples of greed she battled and beat in the end And for all the men and boys who are called by the sea…to bring them home safely to thee.”

It ends with ‘Times and Tides’, a reading by McGarry from Lavery’s book that, like the album, is a finely spun tribute testament to the men who risk their lives to harvest the ocean and the women “who never waved…Nor wavered” and the kids waiting for their fathers’ return “Christmas every twenty-one days.” It’s rich in honest emotion, deep humanity, resonant lyrics and infectious melodies. Typical Reg Meuross after all, then.

Mike Davies

Reg Meuross 12 Silk Handkerchiefs album review – Folk Radio UK

“Meuross has achieved something rare and important: he has reanimated a valuable piece of history, and he has done so with great sincerity and emotional depth. 12 Silk Handkerchiefs is a fitting tribute not just to Lillian Bilocca, but to the power of individuals to bring about change for the better.”  FULL FOLK RADIO UK REVIEW HERE By Thomas Blake

TOUR INFO HERE

few years ago there was something of a fad for TV programmes about ‘the deadliest jobs in the world.’ One occupation that often featured was that of the commercial fisherman. Camera crews would spend a few days with a fleet, filming the taciturn crews of trawlers as they were buffeted by menacing winds and huge sea swell in the North Atlantic. The sombre mood of these programmes was exacerbated by stories of injury and death, and by the unavoidable fact that the fishing industry has been in a seemingly terminal decline for a long time. I am not entirely sure what draws people to view this sort of thing – perhaps a large measure of schadenfreude is involved, or the need to experience vicariously a life of danger and adventure. Either way, they must have been reasonably successful – even a hermit with no telly (me) was aware of them.

And it is true – commercial fishing is dangerous. But it is much, much less dangerous now than it was fifty years ago when the industry was virtually unregulated, and crews were wholly in the power of unscrupulous and often negligent trawler bosses whose primary concern was to maximise profit. The city of Hull suffered more than most – an estimated 6,000 of its fishermen have died at sea since the 1850s. And then in 1968, in a period of less than a month, three separate trawlers went down in bad weather. Of the combined crew of fifty-nine men, there was only one survivor.

The story of what became known as the Hull triple trawler tragedy – and the subsequent changes in the industry – has been told before. But the universal nature of the lessons learned combined with the highly personal and emotive subject means it is a story that is worth repeating. And there can’t be many better placed to tell that story than singer, songwriter and storyteller Reg Meuross, who has been compared to Ewan McColl and counts Pete Townshend and Martin Carthy amongst his fans. Meuross has chosen to present the material as a six-song cycle with each song introduced by a section of spoken word to provide an extra layer of historical context. Singing duties are shared between Meuross and two Hull folk singers, Sam Martyn and Mick McGarry. 12 Silk Handkerchiefs’ narrative arc is based on Brian W. Lavery’s book The Headscarf Revolutionaries, itself a fascinating and moving work of social history, which focuses on the campaign of Lillian ‘Big Lil’ Bilocca (Lavery also provides the narration here). Bilocca was the wife, mother and daughter of fishermen (and herself worked in the fishing industry), and it was the tireless work of her and her colleagues that finally brought about better working conditions for trawlermen.

The album begins on the most personal of notes: Wash Her Man Away describes the superstitions of a fisherman’s wife who refuses to do laundry on the day before her husband sets sail. Sung by McGarry, it is a quietly stirring hymn to the small details and relationships that make life bearable: drinking with your brothers, singing along to songs by the Drifters. It is also a song fraught with fear and haunted by the listener’s foreknowledge of the disaster that is about to occur. Meuross’ acoustic guitar has a simple fluidity to it, and Martyn’s harmonium adds depth and a touch of solemnity.

The narrative introduction to the next song, I Am A Fish House Woman, describes the camaraderie of the women in the fish processing plant and goes into colourful detail about the nature of the work. It also briefly introduces Bilocca, and we get a glimpse of the determination and the sadness that will define the rest of her life. The song itself is sung beautifully by Martyn. Her voice is both impassioned and down to earth, and harmonies in the chorus enhance the strong sense of community. It is illuminating at a documentary level – we learn for example that the women have to wear thick coats to stave off the freezing temperatures in the fish house – but what is truly moving is how these facts impact on the lives of individuals, how the narrator’s mother only stopped working when ‘the freezing took her lung’, or how her tongue is as sharp as her knife. It is partly the mastery of details like this that makes Meuross such an impressive songwriter.

The heart of the album deals with the harrowing story of John Barry Rogers, an eighteen-year-old deckhand who saved the life of Harry Eddom (the tragedy’s only survivor) before dying of exposure in Eddom’s arms. The song John Barry Rogers, sung by McGarry from the point of view of the dead man, is not an easy listen. We see all the modest hopes of a young man disappear into the freezing sea. But it is a compelling and ultimately moving examination of just how precious – and how precarious – each individual life is.

The Man The Sea Gave Up, sung by Meuross, tells Harry Eddom’s story. On the surface, it is the most upbeat moment of the album, but in reality, the tale of a man who survived only to see all of his colleagues perish puts an even more heartbreaking slant on the story. Musically, the structure and delivery of the song resemble early Bob Dylan, and Martyn’s flute sounds a note of hope above the desperation.

As 12 Silk Handkerchiefs draws towards its end, it focuses in on Lillian Bilocca. It was Bilocca’s sustained campaign of civil disobedience that led eventually to a change in the legislation that would save the lives of countless fishermen. She was evidently a strong, single-minded and complex character, but was not without her fragilities. A character that any writer would love to invent. In short, she was human, and it is this humanity that Meuross draws out so well in his songwriting. Sleep You Safely describes her touching meeting with a young galley boy, a small but meaningful moment of empathy. And the title track, full of graceful harmonies, shows that she was still thinking of the men who were lost at sea when she herself lay dying of cancer in 1988 at the age of 59.

Fifty years on from the triple trawler tragedy, the events of 1968 and Lillian Bilocca’s story are, more than ever, in the public eye. Earlier this year there was a BBC documentary on the subject, and a play by Maxine Peake – The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca – opened in Hull a year ago. But more importantly, the story lives on in the hearts of the people from Hull and beyond, people who lost loved ones in the tragedy, and who were moved to tears when this album was premiered in a live setting in January. Meuross has achieved something rare and important: he has reanimated a valuable piece of history, and he has done so with great sincerity and emotional depth. 12 Silk Handkerchiefs is a fitting tribute not just to Lillian Bilocca, but to the power of individuals to bring about change for the better.

 

REG MEUROSS new album review from Dutch music mag RootsTime

First review just in for REG MEUROSS’ eponymous release via Stockfish-Records, from Belgian music magazine Rootstime. Thank you Valsam.
 
UK Album Launch gig is Friday 13th July (limited copies of the CD will be available for sale at the gig). TICKETS HERE
Online order from Germany HERE
 
“Love, death, political events and social themes are the subjects of the songs of English singer-songwriter Reg Meuross from Somerset. He is a modern folk troubadour who pays a lot of attention to his lyrics and has already won several prizes in his own country for his songs and albums, in addition to the general appreciation he has earned for his work. Several music critics think that elements from the sound of great folk singers like Tom Paxton, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen can be heard in his music. Why do not we know this active musician for several decades in our regions, you might wonder? We have not been able to come up with a real answer to this, but we can now make up for this together with you by listening to the songs on his latest album “Reg Meuross” recorded by the German record label “Stockfisch Records” by musical talent-discoverer Günter Pauler which will be brought onto the market next month.
 
Reg Meuross has a beautiful voice and he is an absolute master-narrator in his songs, something beautifully illustrated in “Good With His Hands”, “The Man In Edward Hopper’s Bar” and “Jesus Wept” about a soldier who was unjustly shot for desertion during the 1st World War. And there are more stories in “Looking For Johnny Ray” about the famous singer of the world hit “Cry” and in “The Band Played” Sweet Marie “, a story about the woman who bought a violin for her fiancée, the bandleader of the orchestra that played on the ‘Titanic’ and drowned while playing, according to the myth. In the simple but sincere love song Reg Meuross excels, like “One Way Ticket To Louise”, “For Sophie (This Beautiful Day)”, “I Need You” and the closing track “Worry No More”.
 
‘Stockfisch Records’ has re-recorded all of these songs and provided great orchestration for the songs in the studio. The excellent SACD sound (= Super Audio CD) of this recording makes for an especially enjoyable hour of folk songs by Reg Meuross and for a very pleasant introduction to the work of this  English songwriter from Somerset.”
(partial translation from Dutch – full review HERE)
 

“Songs that needed to be heard” – Maverick Magazine reviews Songs About A Train by Reg Meuross

Nick Dalton reviews Reg Meuross SONGS ABOUT A TRAIN Hatsongs Records 
“Songs that needed to be heard” 

Songs that needed to be heard. This set (hot on the heels of the impressive FARAWAY PEOPLE) is actually a bit of a scrapbook, a collection of songs written and recorded between 2013 and 2017 yet otherwise unreleased….the result (which comes as a signed limited edition) is impeccable – and you’d never know it wasn’t recorded as an album.

As a solo artist, Meuross sometimes finds himself overshadowed in his work with others (as half of the inspired Panic Brothers and as part of Hank Wangford’s travelling band). Yet over the years he’s made something like a dozen delectable solo albums, a singer-songwriter who often drifts into folk and country, something very English yet taking on the world. This set (hot on the heels of the impressive FARAWAY PEOPLE) is actually a bit of a scrapbook, a collection of songs written and recorded between 2013 and 2017 yet otherwise unreleased (the second such set following 2011’s THE DREAMED AND THE DROWNED).

photocredit Pete Grubb

It kicks off with the delightful ‘Letting Go’, a low key band a air with bassist Simon Edwards and drummer Roy Dodds (both ex-Fairground Attraction, the latter also a Langford teammate) and keyboards by Rabbit Bundrick, once of Free, now a Who stalwart). Other than that it’s simply Meuross on acoustic guitar on wistful, delicate tracks such as ‘Little Acts Of Vengeance’ and ‘Martin’, adding harmonica on ‘The Angel Maker’ and switching to banjo, gently-plucked, on the title track with its air of a dustbowl soundtrack. ‘Idaho’ is a perhaps the most overtly country, melancholy and beautiful, something you could imagine of a jukebox in a roadhouse along a lonesome road. Produced by Meuross and Dodds, the result (which comes as a signed limited edition) is impeccable – and you’d never know it wasn’t recorded as an album.

Nick Dalton

Maverick Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

Fatea Magazine album review: Songs About A Train by Reg Meuross

FULL REVIEW ON FATEA WEBSITE

What a time it is to be a Reg Meuross fan, with three albums released in just over a year. Two of these, December and Faraway People, are highly acclaimed parts of a trilogy, the title track of the latter winning Song of the Year at the recent Fatea Awards. Songs About A Train in part answers the question of what happens to the tracks that don’t make the final release; the ones that slip down the back of the sofa. The last compilation of unreleased material resulted in The Dreamed And The Drowned, with Head Librarian at the Bodleian Music Library Stephen Jordan helping to bring that album to life. While Jordan sadly passed away in 2015, this album is a nod of appreciation to the man that said, “some songs are right books put on the wrong shelves.”

In many ways you know what you’re going to get with a Reg Meuross album; gorgeous and moving songs, full of heart and soul. Yet every release is distinctly unique. Songs About A Train is less political than Faraway People, though it has lost none of the humanity. Three of the collection had an airing at last year’s album launch, and it is wonderful to see them getting on an album. A Quiet Night is performed on Reg’s trusty Appalachian Dulcimer, and is an understated joy. The World Being The World was birthed by a somewhat nihilistic quote from Ian McShane on the TV show Deadwood. Fortunately the track is a little more optimistic. Then there is the title track, which opened the album launch, played on banjo if memory serves, and is destined to become a favourite.

Reg’s storytelling talents are also front and centre here, with two songs in particular
standing out. The Angel Maker features the story of Amelia Dyer, possibly the most prolific serial killer of all time. She was hanged in 1896 after murdering up to 400 children. Martin celebrates St Martin, a Roman soldier who renounced wealth and status to promote peace and charity. He is famously depicted as having cut his cloak in half to clothe a freezing beggar, and then saw Jesus wear the same cloak in a vision, after which he dedicated his life to those in need.

As with The Dreamed And The Drowned, you never get the sense that this is an album of mismatched songs. All the tracks fit together, as if they were destined to share the same album. A lot of artists strive in vain to make an album of this quality, yet with these eleven previously rejected tracks Reg has once again produced something truly special. Songs About A Train is an absolute pleasure to listen to from start to finish, and his Two Albums Tour this year is going to be unmissable. There are only a thousand copies available of the new album, so get yours quickly before they are all snatched up.

Adam Jenkins

BUY ALBUMS HERE

TOUR DATES

Maverick Magazine album review: Faraway People by Reg Meuross

Reg Meuross: FARAWAY PEOPLE
Hatsongs Records HAT011
***** Distinctive English voice sings songs of misery and pain. Maverick Magazine

This is the sort of album that is like an invitation to an intimate acoustic gig in your own front room when you know you are going to hear superb biting songs with no frills laced with reality and commitment.

The arrangements, delivery and music are pure English folk and Reg calls up the ghosts of the likes of Nick Drake and classic Roy Harper. These songs though are songs for today and sketch out the lives of characters that we see on our streets and see on out televisions everyday. Sometimes these characters are demonised and abused but Reg’s gentle voice brings out their humanity and we see the starkness and brutality of their shattered lives.

This is clearest in the wonderful opening title track that tells us of the reality behind the headlines as Reg uses the names of real people plucked from the newspapers in our shameful national press. So we hear about Stephanie Boterill who “lived only on custard while her small income pays for a bedroom unused” . Then there’s Julian Little sitting with his unused wheelchair wasting away neglected, forgotten and abused by a system that doesn’t care. These songs aren’t for the faint hearted and they underline the brutality of a world where people seem to have forgotten how to care as Reg sadly sing “You’ll be unfit to work when you’re dead”.

Reg doesn’t let us forget that this kind of brutality isn’t restricted to one country as he recalls the events of Ferguson, Missouri almost four years ago when Michael Brown was shot dead by a white Police officer. His classic song THE LONESOME DEATH OF MICHAEL BROWN echoes Bob Dylan’s song about the death of another black life, Hattie Caroll, more than 50 years ago. We are forcefully reminded that despite civil rights and “black lives matter” it seems sometimes that things don’t really change. In REFUGEE Reg skilfully personalises the lives of an unnamed family as they try to build lives after leaving their own lives behind in one of the too numerous shattered countries across the globe. In LEAVIN’ ALABAMA we hear the ghost of Hank Williams talking to Dylan talking over songs about “whiskey God and women”, a great old yarn that can’t help but make you grin. We end on the sad tale of PHIL OCHS AND ELVIS EATING LUNCH IN MORRISON’S CAFE where we see a couple eating a lunch feeling bruised and battered by a life gone wrong.

It all sounds like depressing stuff and at times it really is but if there’s any redemption here it’s perhaps that if we can see these lives being shattered and the world looks as though it’s spinning out of control we might be able to raise our selves and actually do something about it. It isn’t often that a mere song can install these lofty thoughts but Reg Meuross manages to do that right here with these eleven songs his acoustic guitar and a sweet sweet voice. Buy the album, see the tour and do yourself a favour.

Greg Johnson

BUY THE ALBUM

TOUR DATES

Faraway People album review by Mick Tems for Folk Wales

Verdict: every song from the gentle, enchanting genius is worth its weight in gold. Just buy it!

I love and respect Reg Meuross for his crystal-clear honesty, his memorable hook-lines, his thought-provoking, quiet verses and his burning desire in taking on and pointing the accusing finger at the bullying corporate organisations, the avaricious money-lenders and the lying politicians. Faraway People is the second of his solo album trilogy, following on from his beautiful and deeply poetic December. He reminds me of that old Victorian hymn: “Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire, oh, still small voice of calm” – however, Reg’s real armaments are his hard-hitting songs, each one eloquently filled with smoking anger and injustice.
He says the Tory dogma of austerity is a lie: “It’s the way the Government justifies the constant shift of money, power, property and resources to the corporations, to the banks, the foreign landlords and investors, the chemical companies, and themselves. The only austerity is that which our own Government impose upon us for the sake of greed and power. We don’t live in an age of austerity – the most expensive rental property in London will cost you £90,000 a week. We live in an age of arrogant greed and gross inequality.”
Reg wrote the title track ‘Faraway People’ after studying the Hephaestus website, which included a long list of all the people who had died directly as a result of austerity measures, cuts to their benefits by ATOS or because of the bedroom tax. He says: “The names are real and just a tiny few of the many who have suffered.” The Grenfell Tower fire outrage (when many lives were lost on account of the cheaper cladding, which saved the rich London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea £300,000 and was patently not fire-proof) came too late for the album, so Reg has added this verse while singing the song live: “They cut the police and they cut down the firemen / With the money they save they fill their own urns / The corporates thrive and their friends rise to power / While the food banks increase and the tower block burns.” The toxic fall-out continues: London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to send in the commissioners, Tory leader Nick Paget-Brown’s and chief executive officer Nicolas Holgate’s resignation after being pressured to do so by Government communities secretary Sajid Javid, the revelation that a Grenfell fire victim was still being charged for council rent and a Tory councillor’s scoffing that the erroneous deduction was “a tiny thing”. The official death toll has been put at 80, but it keeps on inexorably shooting up.
The writer, journalist and radio presenter Mike Davies offered to write the Faraway People sleeve notes, and he says: “The big picture is important, but sometimes you only get there via the small details. None of the names have been changed to protect the guilty, some you may recognise, others not, but all those mentioned in the lyrics have died as a direct result of the government’s cuts to incapacity benefit. They are the faraway people, but they could be your neighbour. They could be your family. They could be you.” And what of the Government’s constant bungling and inflexible ineptitude? There’s a very pungent quote from the BBC debate series, Question Time: “Theresa May couldn’t negotiate herself out of a paper bag.” Reg puts in the knife with a line from the title song: “The scandal of governments unfit to govern… you’ll be unfit to work when you’re dead.”
Reg is not only a mesmeric singer-songwriter; he’s a wonderful storyteller, too. He weaves his tales in this ancient venerable art, then polishes them up by composing the most captivating tunes you ever heard. He doesn’t mince words – ‘Angel In A Blue Dress’ is his salute to the nursing profession, now battered and bruised by Government policies; ‘The Lonesome Death Of Michael Brown’ recounts the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer on August 9, 2014; ‘For Sophie (This Beautiful Day)’ is his tribute to Sophie Scholl, daughter of a liberal politician and a student of Munich University, who was executed by guillotine with her brother Hans for distributing leaflets denouncing the Nazis’ mass murder of Jews in 1943; ‘New Brighton Girl’ is a message of loving hope in a would where cynicism and despair seem to be the norm’ and ‘Cicero’ is Reg’s reworking of the eleven comments on occupations and social status, as pronounced in 43BC by the titular Roman philosopher. As Mike said, lawyers, doctors, politicians, bankers and the conscienceless rich might want to skip this one.
‘Refugee’ concerns Ahmad Al-Rashid, a Syrian Kurd and a former English Literature student, who fled Aleppo in the Syrian Civil War. He worked for the UN in Iraq’s refugee camps, until the increasingly volatile situation caused him to flee again. His video footage, documenting his journey to the UK, became part of the award-winning BBC-2 documentary Exodus. He works for organisations advocating refugees’ rights, and Reg invited him to give a talk. Out of that talk, this song was born.
Reg writes a plethora of absolutely stunning material, and included in the album is ‘Leavin’ Alabama’ (the poet Dylan Thomas and country star Hank Williams, both hard drinkers, never met but died within a year of each other; this is an imaginary conversation between them) and ‘Phil Ochs And Elvis Eating Lunch In Morrisons’ Cafe’ (a bizarre but true tale when Reg and Hank Wangford decided to visit a cafe. In walked an Elvis look-alike and, unbelievably, a character who was the spitting image of Ochs. Both sat down together at a table; you could not make this one up!) Verdict: every song from the gentle, enchanting genius is worth its weight in gold. Just buy it!
MICK TEMS – FOLK WALES

Faraway People album review by David Kidman for Fatea Magazine

Time and again, Reg proves himself one of the key songwriters of our age, and Faraway People is (even on the briefest of acquaintances) bound to be judged among his finest collections.

I’ve been singing Reg’s praises for a number of years now, and even ten albums into his solo career he’s still coming up with the goods with perennially strong and distinctively compassionate songwriting. His 2015 album December was the first in a trilogy of releases conceived in response to those who’ve seen him performing live and want to hear him that way, just one voice and a guitar unadorned by studio treatments or distracted by complex arrangements and crowds of extra musicians. Faraway People is the second in that trilogy, and adheres to the same laudable credo – with minor concession in the shape of very occasional self-augmentation on banjo or harmonica. And, like its predecessor (and indeed, those albums before it) there’s an even consistency both in the writing and the performing, both in terms of style and quality. And there’s a curious thing: for I’ve happened to seriously cross swords with fellow-listeners of reliable musical taste, who have – unaccountably – remained steadfastly resistant to Reg’s talent, citing that very consistency as a major factor in why they don’t “get” his music. Their personal predilection may be for a more overtly dramatic delivery, a more radically challenging musical personality – against which Reg’s assured, smooth, softly melodious, easily accessible and yes, relatively gentle style might initially seem uneventful, bland even. I stress the word “initially”, for just a little effort (and a second playthrough) will enable an open mind and allow Reg’s lyrics to begin to make their mark. For his performing style is indeed deceptive, whereby he cradles his often extremely hard-hitting observations in a thoroughly congenial musical language that makes good, clever use of memorable hooks and refrains and seemingly effortlessly earworm-catchy progressions. Reg’s emotional commitment is second to none, though, and he shows a sincere and entirely genuine concern for the plight of ordinary people that runs right through his lyrics.

Faraway People’s title song brilliantly exemplifies the above; here Reg takes a number of “case studies”, referencing undisguised real names of people who’ve been let down big-time by the ineptitude, inaction or just plain uncaring attitudes of successive governments. Reg doesn’t need to point the finger, for the facts tell it all in his commentaries – he’s even written an extra verse for this song in the wake of the recent Grenfell Tower fire (you’ll hear him perform this at a live gig). Other songs on the album deal, through retelling of, or reference to, specific real-life stories which bear a universal relevance: Refugee, For Sophie (This Beautiful Day) and The Lonesome Death Of Michael Brown all provide particularly poignant examples of this method. Such songs unashamedly tackle contentious issues and harrowing experiences, and are handled with extreme sensitivity and an unusual degree of insight into personal situations. Angel In A Blue Dress perfectly voices the thoughts and feelings of a nurse in the NHS whose job is made all the more difficult by persistent cuts in cash and resources – and yet it’s not an angry tirade, more a sanguine statement of resilience and coping that rings so very true, all expressed with tenderness and economy in well under three minutes. At the other end of the temporal spectrum we find the near-eight-minute Cicero, which is probably equal-parts commentary and philosophical tract; this song takes the idiom and call-and-response/refrain structure of Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (itself borrowed from folk-balladry) to voice, and expand on, eleven comments on occupations and social status by the Roman philosopher Cicero. And it’s a magnificent focal point and centrepiece to the disc.

Balancing the songs of right-minded protest and political commentary, Reg also pens some highly affecting love songs (another trait he shares with Dylan…). Three of Faraway People’s tracks (New Brighton Girl, In Your Arms and In Dreams) come into this category, and celebrate (respectively) the power, the glory and the intense (though bittersweet) reassurance that romantic love can bring. There’s also a third aspect of Reg’s songwriting that can often overlap a little with the others – Reg has an acute eye for observation of humanity, and a gift for quirky depiction and interpretation of real or posited or imagined occurrences. Faraway People contains one example of each of these: the cheekily-titled Phil Ochs & Elvis Eating Lunch In Morrison’s Café (you couldn’t make it up!) based on Reg’s own close listening-in to this emblematic encounter in a motorway service area, and Leavin’ Alabama (a kind of “historical fantasy” which cleverly imagines a barroom meeting between Dylan Thomas and Hank Williams that could almost have actually happened!).

Reg’s songwriting gift is such that even if you don’t get some of his actual temporal references and direct namechecks his message is clear and its communication unobscure(d). Time and again, Reg proves himself one of the key songwriters of our age, and Faraway People is (even on the briefest of acquaintances) bound to be judged among his finest collections.

David Kidman

To purchase Faraway People the album click HERE

The Living Tradition reviews ‘December’ by Reg Meuross – Dave Hadfield

Reg Meuross - The Living Tradition  2016 Folk

“This tradition is in good hands… Reg Meuross doesn’t regard himself as any sort of traddie – and yet he can command a front cover and an interview in a magazine like this. Perhaps, as he hints in that recent article, he has been building a tradition of his own. After all, the idea of crafting your own songs and taking them on the road is one that goes a long way back. That, in a nutshell, is what Meuross does; he is one of those artistes who has always been there… doing what he does.”

FULL REVIEW: Reg Meuross doesn’t regard himself as any sort of traddie – and yet he can command a front cover and an interview in a magazine like this. Perhaps, as he hints in that recent article, he has been building a tradition of his own. After all, the idea of crafting your own songs and taking them on the road is one that goes a long way back. That, in a nutshell, is what Meuross does; he is one of those artistes who has always been there, on the fringes of the scene, doing what he does.

This, as seems to be the current fashion, is a stripped-down production; just him, his guitar and the occasional trill of Dylanesque harmonica. The guitar is particularly well-recorded; mind you, it must help when it’s a 1944 Martin.

Reg Meuross DecemberHis songs are deceptively simple and, despite the onset of middle-age, are largely preoccupied with the years of growth and discovery, and his digging a little deeper in his personal life history. There is a ration of poignancy and regret, and which song gets through to you the most clearly will inevitably depend on your own experience. I don’t know how many votes Smarter Than Me will get as a favourite track, but it hits the mark for me with the aid of hindsight. Of course they were, all the girls I loved, smarter than me.

Others will find their own highlights and insights and plenty to reflect upon. It matters little that his rather ethereal voice has the occasional scrap of sandpaper in it now. This tradition is in good hands.

Dave Hadfield

www.regmeuross.com

Dai Jeffries reviews ‘December’ by Reg Meuross

Reg Meuross’ new album is a back-to-basics affair; one man, his acoustic guitar and harmonica and ten songs. It’s remarkably refreshing – I don’t know Reg’s music as well as I should but I think that will change very soon.

Link to Folking.com

Reg Meuross 'Demember' album review David Kidman FateaThe opening song, ‘When You Needed Me’, is catchy and clever but I can’t help but think that he’s being rather knowing. He puts all the solo singer-songwriter tropes in this song – hints of Paul Simon, a dash of Bob Dylan and a wash of Leonard Cohen – as if to say “that’s what you expected, now let’s get on”. He follows that with ‘I Want You’, a love song with a great sense of intimacy, and this, you feel, is his real voice. That voice returns in the single, ‘The Hands Of A Woman’, a delicate ode to love that suddenly explodes with bitterness. The pattern is repeated with ‘In My Heart’ but this time the emotion is sadness rather than anger.

Reg is a master of melody, something of a lost art these days. ‘The Day She Never Cried’ is a perfect example of a sublime tune matched with great words and ‘The Night’ is a series of word-pictures that pull you in to snapshots of the world. Some of these songs are drowning in regret – ‘When You Needed Me’ and ‘Smarter Than Me’ are self-deprecating while ‘The Day She Never Cried’ obsessively picks away at the scars of a failed relationship. At least I think that’s what it’s about but the writer stands apart as if denying responsibility.

The album being called December it has to end with a ‘Christmas Song’ about one of the people forgotten at the festive season. Reg could take a very jaundiced view but, as with the rest of the album, the mood is one of regret and is surprisingly tender. This is a fine collection of songs which conceal great depths within their simplicity.

Dai Jeffries

 

David Kidman reviews ‘December’ by Reg Meuross for Fatea Magazine

“….the gentle enchantment – and yes, genius – of Reg Meuross.”

Link to Fatea Magazine
Reg Meuross 'Demember' album review David Kidman Fatea“What is it about west-country-based singer-songwriter Reg? Ten albums into his career, and he’s still turning out timeless, classy, stylish songs, yet he doesn’t appear to be as universally appreciated as IMHO he should be. With each successive album, I find myself asking the same question but failing to find a logical reason for his comparative lack of recognition; however, to maintain a best-kept-secret status is an achievement in itself, and one not to be derided or devalued.

Reg’s debut solo albums, released in the mid-to-late 90s, were masterly examples of one-man-and-his-guitar songwriterdom at its very best, containing collections of superbly crafted songs (replete with brilliantly observed lyrics and memorable melodies) that should have instantly earned Reg a place in the pantheon of great singer-songwriters of the decade – and, I wager, would have done so if they’d appeared a couple of decades earlier, around the start of the 70s. Now I don’t mean to imply that, for all its classic qualities, Reg’s work is in any way dated, or derivative, or retro pastiche. He takes inspiration from the singer-songwriter greats, sure, and there’ve been moments when several of these figures will have been namechecked (or soundchecked!). No – instead we’re talking resonance here: homage, albeit subliminal or subconscious. Not imitation, but genuine and natural artistic expression emanating from a man who’s absorbed the lessons of the masters and gone on to create his own engaging brand of meaningful commentary. And it might seem something of a paradox that, despite the plethora of potential namechecks evoked, Reg’s own “voice” is distinctive and unmistakable, once heard and assimilated. His style is thoroughly accessible, his performance mode assured, accomplished and refreshingly plain-spoken, and his singing voice, though gentle and light-textured, is yet capable of an intense emotional honesty.

All of the above traits are on full display on December, Reg’s latest album of new songs on which he comes full-circle to his no-frills vox-and-guitar beginnings, given a refined yet commendably straightforward production (by Roy Dodds) that allows full concentration exactly where it’s required with no distractions, replicating the legendary intimacy of his solo gigs and responding directly to the countless requests for a record that “sounds just like what we’ve just heard”(though in terms of ambience and intense communication with the listener, I hasten to add, rather than any hint of auto-pilot regurgitation of past glories).

Armed with only his trusty, newly restored 1944 Martin guitar (and very occasionally dusting off the harmonica), Reg treats us to a lovingly configured sequence of songs that reflect with trademark integrity and compassion on matters of love and life: the good times and the bad, and – most tellingly – the multiple contradictions and complexities which only actual experience can bring. As in The Hands Of A Woman, one of December’s standout songs, a masterpiece of thoughtful ambiguity whereby the carefully-chosen words illustrate simple truths, as the singer’s direct experience of the physical world is felt to mirror his emotional state as it progresses from reassurance and hope to doubt and turmoil during the course of a relationship. The album’s opening statement, the regretful When You Needed Me, is set to a rippling wistfulness that’s inescapably reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, while the delicate, affecting yearning of I Want You transcends easy nostalgic reminiscence with the unalloyed beauty of its melody. This is followed by a brace of portrait-songs that almost incidentally demonstrate Reg’s talent for getting inside his characters: Man In A Boat, which sways companionably with the motion of the waves, and the insightful (yet almost guilty) detachment of The Day She Never Cried. Smarter Than Me continues the theme of regret from earlier on the disc, but with just a trace of self-pity perhaps. The impassioned, quite unbearably sad In My Heart and the more hopeful Let Me Forget (which together arguably form the album’s emotional centre) attempt, through pleading and self-examination, to find some kind of reconciliation upon the failure of a relationship. The Night is an impressionistic procession of images that might be felt to derive inspiration from Townes Van Zandt, while finally Christmas Song takes a tender and sympathetic slant on an all-too-familiar seasonal scenario.

Simple, affecting, and compellingly engaging expressiveness, couched in curiously memorable understatement and timeless melodic flair: therein lies the gentle enchantment – and yes, genius – of Reg Meuross.”

David Kidman – Fatea Magazine

http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/reviews/RegMeuross2/

Full House at the Folk House, live review Bristol 2 April 2016

LIVE GIG REVIEW fromthewhitehouse

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 13.40.23Saturday 2 April, early days still in the December solo album tour, singer-songwriter Reg Meuross kicked off this Bristol gig with What Would William Morris Say?, a song from previous album England Green & England Grey. It’s a strong opener, and not for the first time the obvious answer came into my head, that Morris, a passionate believer in good social values and in usefulness and beauty in all man made things, would have been very happy sitting with us in that packed Folk House listening to songs from this extraordinary songwriter and observer of life, people and the world. Reg’s songs, even the most powerful and political, all have a beauty and authenticity that leads us gently, and we follow willingly and trustingly, sometimes into very dark places.

Reg is such a seasoned and relaxed performer, with such a wide repertoire of songs to
chose from, that he is able instinctively to craft each gig to suit the venue and the audience present. Many of these
December solo gigs start with a set of songs from his back catalogue: songs rich in stories and characters from history and from today. This evening the characters brought into the room included (as well as William Morris) the late great politician Tony Benn, suffragette Emily Davison, and one of the shell shocked soldiers shot for ‘treason’ in WW1, Harry Farr.

IMG_6373Next, the lyrics and Blakean references in one of my all time favourites from the Meuross collection, My Jerusalem, sent shivers through the Folk House air ‘They talk of dreams and pastures new, But power’s dark breath corrupts their lungs’, but nothing could have prepared us for the impact of a new song… brand new and not even on the new album… Refugee. Reg, along with Jess Vincent and other songwriters, musicians and commentators, has been involved in the recent Concert To Calais tour to help people in the Calais camp, and he was moved by this as well as by talking to and hearing the terrifying stories about the journey of a young brave Syrian man (known in the UK as Jack Ar) who has fled the horrors of war, to write Refugee. This was the first ever live performance of the song, and the words and melody went deep. We are not talking here about a historical song where we can complacently look back and think ‘oh wasn’t that terrible’. This complex and shocking war and destruction is ravaging the lives of so many thousands of men women and children and it’s happening now. The chorus ‘Refugee, refugee now he’s just a refugee’ reminding us we should not use labels. These are people, we are all people.

I think that Reg was aiming to lift us by playing Man In The Moon, and there is a lightness in the rhythm and melody of this oft requested song, but my heart was still with the Refugee, and the song led me to the thought of us all looking at the same moon, but so many people not being allowed the hopes and freedom that we can take so for granted ‘got no choice, when you’re a refugee’. I think I was still in that space throughout the next favourite, My Name Is London Town, and until Reg brought us back to Bristol with Redcliffe Boy. This is one of those where he has researched thoroughly into official records rather than accepting romanticised folklore, and this song tells a truer story (but still compelling) of the life and death of the poet Thomas Chatterton. Reg had spoken earlier in the day to Laura Rawlings on BBC Radio Bristol, explaining he has always had a natural curiosity (his mother told him he always asked the same question three times) and likes to unearth truth and debunk myths, not to spoil romantic notions but in a quest for authenticity in storytelling.

After a well earned interval Reg returned to the stage with songs from the new album December, and he delivered all 10 of these heart achingly beautiful songs with no talking in between. In contrast to the stories and audience engagement between songs in the first set, Reg now engaged in a very different way. All around me quiet except the sound of my heart breaking from When You Needed Me just about sums it up. These are songs that are new (written and recorded in just two days in December 2015) and yet I feel I’ve known them my whole life, they’ve been hiding somewhere in my bones, under my skin and in every tear I’ve ever shed. They are songs of heartbreak, and Reg delivered each one beautifully. I was trying to make notes, but really all I wanted to do was sit and indulge fully, sinking into the beauty and the sadness of these songs. Even the Christmas song holds heartbreak and homelessness.

When the tenth song was sung, after the spellbound silence of the audience sitting like children waiting bated breath for each new story, the radiant warmth of their loud applause and cheering was an extraordinary thing to experience.

I have been working with Reg for 3 years now, and I thought I knew his work pretty well.. but there is real magic in this latest and very reflective album, and the way these December solo gigs bring new and old together all the love invested in his newly restored 1944 Martin Guitar, the characters, heroes (past and present) and storytelling of his past 10 albums..

Great reviews are coming out for this album, and I can completely understand why the comparisons are too: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paulo Nutini, Cat Stevens, Tom Paxton, Paul Simons, Al Stewart, Jackson C Franks, REM. I hope this will lead many more people to explore the wonderful wealth of Reg Meuross songs.. and that the comparisons will one day give way to recognition to Reg Meuross for being Reg Meuross. No one does it better.

Katie Whitehouse To find out more and for live dates: www.regmeuross.com Get in touch to book Reg for gigs, festivals, songwriting workshops, house concerts, interview and live sessions katie@fromthewhitehouse.com

LINK

REVIEW Reg Meuross new album ‘December’ PENNYBLACK MUSIC

“While comparisons to Cat Stevens, Paul Simon and others have been made in the past, Meuross has carved his own niche, partly because of his vocals – it’s impossible not to be drawn to him when he sings and he makes every word believable – and partly because few can set a whole story to music within the space of three minutes which Meuross does, seemingly with ease. Meuross, quite simply, is one of the best.” 

Malcolm Carter LINK

A new album from Somerset-based Reg Meuross is always more than welcome but when said album features ten new songs which are presented purely solo, just one voice, guitar and harmonica, shorn of any overdubs or studio tweaking you just know it’s going to be just a little more intimate and special than any of the nine Meuross albums that have gone before.

Having had his 1944 Martin guitar restored, Meuross set about writing a new set of songs on the instrument which resulted in two days recording at Roy Dodds’ Kitchen Floor Studio in White City, London. Having a warm, inviting vocal style, Meuross has always sounded like he was singing just to you on his albums and on ‘December’ this is particularly noticeable. Shorn of any embellishments apart from a touch of harmonica on some tracks, the sound of one man and his cherished acoustic has rarely been so affecting. Given that Meuross is one of our master storytellers, the sparse setting afforded to Meuross’ songs on ‘December’ just showcases his craft even more.

There’s always been a little distance between Meuross and other singer/songwriters. While comparisons to Cat Stevens, Paul Simon and others have been made in the past, Meuross has carved his own niche, partly because of his vocals – it’s impossible not to be drawn to him when he sings and he makes every word believable – and partly because few can set a whole story to music within the space of three minutes which Meuross does, seemingly with ease. Meuross, quite simply, is one of the best. Which makes the opening song on ‘December’, ‘When You Needed Me’, a little disappointing on first listen. Throughout nine albums there’s never been a time when the listener has the ‘where have I heard that before’ feeling. Although with some albums and artists it can be fun to play that game with Meuross it never arose; when you heard Reg Meuross sing you heard a song that bore no relation to anything you had heard previously and due to that voice and the lyrical content it could only be one person, Reg Meuross. It’s with some disappointment then that ‘When You Needed Me’ plays a sweeter-voiced Leonard Cohen crosses the mind. Thankfully, it’s the only time during ‘December’ that any artist other than Meuross makes an appearance. While that opening song is as good as any that Meuross has recorded, that one little section when Cohen creeps in relegates it to a good, solid song rather than a great one which is what we’ve come to expect from Meuross now. It’s catchy, lyrically smart and would be a welcome addition to any singer/songwriters canon but this is Meuross and we are now accustomed to his work sounding totally original.

‘I Want You’ follows and it’s pure Meuross. In this bare setting Meuross is in the room with you, his lyrics have even more power and his melodies are even sweeter. As for his vocals, they’ve never sounded so good; so close and with such honesty shown in every line this is what we expected and why we hold this artist in such high regard.

‘Man in a Boat’ conveys the maritime theme of the title perfectly. One of Meuross’ story songs, it’s still a surprise how Meuross can conjure up so many images within a three-minute song. That just one voice and one guitar can paint such a vivid picture is but another indication of how talented Meuross is.

‘The Hands of a Woman’ has been chosen as the lead-off single. While it’s the owner of one of Meuross’ most instantly catchy melodies and is blessed with astute lyrics which have become something of his trademark, there are other songs on ‘December’ that deserve the extra attention that being pulled as a single gains. In fact, it must have been a difficult task to pick a single out from this collection; every song deserves to be heard.

‘In My Heart’ has a melancholy feel. You can almost touch the sadness and longing in his vocals. The closing ‘Christmas Song’ is particularly strong, the harmonica-led ‘Smarter Than Me’ is, right now, the favourite. Meuross reflecting on his shortcomings is going to strike a chord with many of his listeners. The opening line, “The road runs like a ribbon to the sky/Red and silver lights go flashing by,” paints such a vivid picture as ‘The Night’ unfolds that for the next five minutes you’re part of the landscape Meuross is passing through. Classic Meuross.

By stripping things right back to basics, Meuross has put even more focus on just how talented a lyricist he is, how as a guitar player he is still underrated and how he has one of the most welcoming voices in music today. For all his past achievements and a few moments at the beginning of the set before he found his own voice again, ‘December’ could well prove to be the most rewarding set from Meuross yet.

REVIEW Reg Meuross new album ‘December’ LOUDER THAN WAR

Finding inspiration in his newly refurbished Martin 1944, Reg Meuross comes up with a series of luminous songs that cement his place as one the UK’s best songwriters.”

Louder than War’s Craig Chaligne reviews  LINK

2016 sees Reg Meuross celebrate his 30th year as a professional musician and there is no better way to celebrate it than with a new album. This release sees the Somerset based musician go back to the basic approach of his first solo albums with just him and his guitar (a beautiful Martin 1944 that we have to thank for this new collection of songs). Recorded over two days on December the 3rd and 11th last year at Kitchen Floor Studio in White City, the record is a carefully crafted collection of tunes that if released 45 years ago would have placed Reg amongst the greatest of the singer-songwriter movement.

Alas in this day and age of crassness, his affecting tunes don’t get on the main airwaves but for all those that will be brave enough to brave the diktat of modern radio and investigate “December”, they will be treated to what could be considered as Britain’s answer to the legendary Townes Van Zandt. The record starts with “When You Needed Me” where Reg’s assured picking and gentle voice accompany a tale of lost love and regrets. The sea shanty “Man in a Boat” is an instant folk classic while “The Day She Never Cried” is refined songwriting at its best, probably the aural equivalent of drinking a 20 year single malt whisky.

Like his 1944’s Martin guitar, Reg’s song are carved out of fine wood, no fancy frills, just melodic tunes with finely written lyrics. “Smarter Than Me” with its harmonica intro sees a man reminisce about his shortcomings and his aspirations while “The Hands of a Woman” is Reg’s lover letter to the opposite sex. The force of a great singer songwriter is to be able to convey emotions through his songs even though he is singing about fictional characters and situations and Reg’s is definitely one of them.

Craig Chaligne

REVIEW Reg Meuross new album ‘December’ THE GUARDIAN

“…sounds like a forgotten American 60s classic, with echoes of early Dylan, Tom Paxton and Leonard Cohen” LINK

FULL REVIEW by Robin Denselow

A very English Kind of Americana

Reg Meuross is one of the more versatile, under-sung survivors of the English acoustic scene. In the mid-1980s he formed the Panic Brothers with Richard Morton, mixing Americana with humour and slick harmonies. Then came the Flamingos, Hank Langford, and solo albums that included the quietly angry England Green & England Grey. Now, following a Panic Brothers Reunion (and rereleases of their 80s recordings) comes his first “completely solo album” of new songs. They are pained and personal rather than political. When You Needed Me sounds like a forgotten American 60s classic, with echoes of early Dylan, Tom Paxton and Leonard Cohen, and is followed by folk-country weepies such as Let Me Forget and Christmas Song. He is backed only by vintage guitar and harmonica, and despite the American influences there’s no hint of an accent in his no-nonsense, intimate vocals.

 

REVIEW Reg Meuross new album ‘December’ FOLK RADIO UK

“Imagine John Prine’s Hello In There crossed with REM’s Losing My Religion. It’s that good. As is everything here” LINK

FULL REVIEW by Mike Davies

Knowingly channeling Cohen’s Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye on reflective opening lost love number When You Needed Me,Reg Meuross’ 11th album marks a return to the one man and a guitar format that initially inspired him and which is the template for his live shows. Having had his 1944 Martin guitar lovingly restored by master craftsman Stuart Palmer in San Jose, Meuross took himself off to London where, over the course of two days, he recorded the songs that make up this collection, straight to the mic, with longtime associate Roy Dodds behind the desk.

The opening track from December sets the pervasive musical and lyrical mood and, along with Cohen, you’ll hear such acknowledged influences as Paul Simon and Bob Dylan in the writing and delivery as the album unfolds. A simple intimate lost love song I Want You (“I want to tell you that I love you, but you don’t want to listen”) is next up, the theme extended through allegory of a doomed castaway (“does he long for the arms of a runaway lover or cannot accept that a great love is over?) in the slow shanty sway of Man In A Boat (which prompts a comparison with the young Harvey Andrews).

There’s a shift of perspective for the circling chords of the poignant The Day She Never Cried, a list of emotional highs and lows that could be seen as either finally overcoming the heartache or making the final surrender to escape love’s loss. Then it’s back to the first person for Let Me Forget, in which the protagonist automatically assumes the relationship will fail, and that life is what happens while you wait for it to do so.

Harmonica enters the mix for Smarter Than Me, a song that underscores those frequent Townes Van Zandt comparisons as he muses on his shortcomings and disappointments (“all my dreams left in a boat that sank before it left the docks”), but comes with a nice twist in that accepting failure seems to be better than “friends plagued with ambition and poisoned by success.”

One of my favourite tracks, The Night is the most obvious nod to Dylan, a series of snapshots of restlessness and disconnections, strum giving way to fingerpicking for   The Hands Of A Woman, a song that begins on an upbeat note (“the hands of a woman telling me everything will work out fine”), surrendering to love only to gradually give way to hurt and loss (“You forget about me and the love that slips through your hands”).

In My Heart also tells of romantic disappointment, except here there is no bitterness, no acrimony, just sweet memories of “The times we shared the way I cared. The tender way you cared for me.

In keeping with the title, the album ends with the year’s first reference to the festive season, Christmas Song, though, also in keeping with the prevailing mood, this isn’t one full of comfort, joy and glad tiding. Rather, in its images of cardboard boxes and soup vans, it’s about those fallen on hard times, a song veined with wearied regret and a warning not to make the same mistakes as the singer as it ends with the lines “Hold on to your sweetheart buy her ribbons. Strong may your children grow. Don’t ever be lonely take her dancing. Spare me some change before you go.” Imagine John Prine’s Hello In There crossed with REM’s Losing My Religion. It’s that good. As is everything here.

Review byMike Davies

 

 

 

England Green & England Grey – a review from FolkWorld, Germany

Thank you Michael Moll LINK TO REVIEW

This is apparently already the 10th album of brilliant singer/songwriter Reg Meuross – and amazingly this is the first time I have heard of this Englishman. The self-penned songs on this album are about big topics – be it about the tragic nature of dementia, Tony Benn’s secretly erected plaque to commemorate the suffragette Emily Davison, the lifes of inmates of a mental asylum in the 1950s, an account of the only Englishwoman to engage in active combat in WW1, or, in the title track, an observation of traditional English values and today’s society and politics.
Despite focussed on difficult societal issues, Reg’s songs never sound dogmatic; they have a warmth in the way they observe the world, and Reg’s singing voice emphasises this warmth further. The lyrics are superb in the way that they tell stories that evoke emotions, yet the songs still can make enjoyable and light hearted listening. Backed by guitar/banjo, accordion, drums/percussion, dobro and fiddle, the music has a contemporary yet folky and definitely English feel to it. The press notes do not exaggerate with their statement that “Reg is one of this country’s greatest songwriters at the very top of his game”, and I feel glad that, after nine albums, I have finally discovered him.
© Michael Moll

REVIEW England Green & England Grey – Malcolm Carter, Pennyblack Music

“it’s the lightness in Meuross’s voice that brings his tales to life and draws the listener into his songs…. He shows that there’s no need to shout to be heard”

“Eighteen months after the release of ‘Leaves and Feathers’, the last album from British singer/songwriter Reg Meuross, the track ‘I Saw a Woman’ which was a highlight of that collection, still sends shivers down the spine; it’s a chilling tale at odds with the gentle, inviting vocals that Meuross tells all his stories in. Meuross isn’t the only artist who, just when you think they’ve peaked, produces another set that can now be defined as their best yet, but with ‘England Green and England Grey’ Meuross leaves the listener in little doubt that there are few singer/songwriters who currently come close.

‘England Green and England Grey’ is an important album; as the title suggests it’s Meuross’s thoughts about his country, and, as usual, with his work Meuross articulates the feelings of many of his countrymen while never once making the listener feel that he is preaching. Those warm vocals often belie the sharpness of the lyrics which make Meuross’s work that much more attractive than that of his contempories. Often labeled as folk music Meuross is so much more than that; with each passing album his work can be compared to that of other artists who are grouped into that genre but really don’t belong. While the pair are miles apart in their vocal style, the work of Billy Bragg comes to mind time and again while listening to ‘England Green and England Grey’. Although Bragg’s foghorn of a voice has matured nicely through the years and developed into that of a gruff but kindly, wise old uncle, it’s the lightness in Meuross’s voice that brings his tales to life and draws the listener into his songs.

England’s decline is the subject of the opening ‘What Would William Morris Say?’, an unexpected lively start to the album with Mike Cosgrave’s accordion somehow adding to the Englishness of the song. The pub sing-a-long chorus is irresistible, you’ll be singing along by the end of the song while recognising that lyrically Meuross has yet again summed up the feeling of the nation perfectly – “We used to go out in our town/We’d go to the pub ‘till the pubs shut down/They smashed the piano/No money for bands/Karaoke led the way/The bland leading the bland” before getting more serious and raising the issue of replacing farming communities with industrial complexes. It’s a strong opening shot that leaves the listener in little doubt that while lyrically thought provoking Meuross hasn’t lost his talent for flowing melodies to dress his acute observations in, and that ‘England Green and England Grey’ is going to be a intriguing journey.

‘Tony Benn’s Tribute To Emily Davison’ follows, another jaunty cut, this time dominated by rolling piano as Meuross fascinates us by singing about suffragette Davison who died after throwing herself under the king’s horse in June 1913. Tony Benn erected a plaque to Davison on the broom cupboard where she hid on the eve on the national Census in 1911, and it was this act that inspired Meuross to write the song. The song throws up another repercussion of listening to Meuross; those without any knowledge of Meuross’s subjects will spend not a little time researching the topics and characters in his stories eager to learn more. Such is the power of this artist’s work.

The title track is classic Meuross; without preaching he paints a vivid picture of what England meant to him and how it is slowing slipping out of grasp. Set to yet another irresistible melody lines like “Shut the factories/Shut the mines/Punish those fell on hard times?While they honour them who do the crimes/The greedy men of England” display the talent Meuross has in articulating the feelings of the everyman. Meuross does, however, conclude that “there is none so sweet as England” again reflecting how many of us feel. With heavenly vocals from Jess Vincent, not only on this song but spread throughout the album, it’s the song to go for if Meuross is a new name to you and you’d like a taster of this exceptional storyteller’s work.

Elsewhere Meuross turns his attention to a sufferer of dementia in ‘Counting My Footsteps to You’, while Meuross’s outstanding guitar playing is given a chance to shine on this track it’s the heartbreaking tale that touches the listener the most. It’s pointless to take a few lines of the lyrics and reproduce them here; they are available on the Reg Meuross web site and really deserve to be read even if the album doesn’t make it into your player, Meuross captures the awfulness of this illness so well; the way he sings “I can’t find my way home” will have anyone who has been in contact with those suffering from dementia reaching for the tissues.

‘They Changed Her Mind’ covers the reopening of a mental asylum that had remained unused since the early 60s and the discovery of suitcases containing the personal effects and details of some of the inmates. Again Meuross delivers a chilling tale, Phil Henry’s dobro adding much to the atmosphere and Vincent’s backing vocals once more embellishing the overall sound. It’s another breathtaking piece of music.

But for all the sensitive performances and subject matter Meuross and his band show they can still inject the urge to dance in the listener on songs such as ‘Sing To Me a Working Week’ with accordion and banjo adding to the party atmosphere.

There is much to be digested on ‘England Green and England Grey’, we haven’t even touched upon songs such as ‘The Band Played Sweet Marie’ a waltz based around the discovery of the violin given by Marie Robinson to her fiancé Wallace Hartley who was the bandleader of the Titanic, or ‘The Ballad Of Flora Sandes’, the only British woman to officially serve as a World War 1 soldier; again you’ll be thankful for the invention of the internet.

Meuross delivers his stories with so much conviction and passion yet still his vocals never lose their gentleness. He shows that there’s no need to shout to be heard and with a first class bunch of musicians fleshing out those unforgettable melodies which compliment his astute lyrical talent ‘England Green and England Grey’ should be heard by all music lovers, not just those interested in the folk and singer/songwriter genres Meuross is often grouped in with. ”

Malcolm Carter
Pennyblack Music

www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Review.aspx?id=9752

REVIEW by Tim Carroll FolkWords: England Green & England Grey, Reg Meuross

For many, the songs of Reg Meuross are the hinges upon which swing the doors of perceptive English folk. We have accompanied him along paths less travelled exploring echoes of society, politics, history, people and places. Now with ‘England Green & England Grey’ his deft lyrical touch and moving vocals lead us through more opening doors to show what lies behind. There remains the accustomed perception and unnerving fearlessness to examine the minutiae and bring it to the surface. There are no obscure touch-line observations but out-on-the-pitch, down and dirty in the mud empathy. It’s easy to identify with these songs because they strike where we live, some with acid-sharp observations that hit harder than expected.

The intense poignancy of social and historical observation flowing through ‘What Would William Morris Say?’ evokes a feeling of irreplaceable loss, especially with the inclusion of quotes from ‘The Message of the March Wind’. The sense of laying waste is palpable – combine a melody to die for, evocative vocals and the undiluted power of the lyrics ‘… they smashed the piano, no money for bands, karaoke led the way, bland leading the bland’ and you have a true folk milestone. The theme repeats through the title track ‘England Green and England Grey’ – an eternally English folk song, and a sad indictment of a nation losing or forgetting its cultural heritage, but laced with a tinge of faith. If ever there was a song to make us want to fight for ‘what’s right’ then this is the one.

With a precise poetic touch and a rich vein of storytelling, his songs form imageries to be remembered. ‘Tony Benn’s Tribute to Emily Davison’ is a perfect example, telling the tale of a secretly-erected plaque respecting the memory of a dedicated suffragette. ‘The Band Played Sweet Marie’ is no less powerful, were the loss of the Titanic not sad enough, permeating down to the personal narrative of bandleader Wallace Hartley tears at your heart. Meuross also espouses narratives of personal tragedy, from ‘They Changed Her Mind’, an incredibly sad tale of individuals confined in institutions by a society that refused to understand and ‘Counting My Footsteps To You’ reflectingthe overwhelming desperation of dementia.These narratives carry characters and relate experiences that create such powerful visual impressions they make this album theatre for your ears. Writing of this calibre demands a deep understanding of a myriad facets within the human condition.

Meuross doesn’t simply write songs raging against the powers that be, he doesn’t adopt injured political ire or preach pointless platitudes. He recalls sacrifice forgotten, rights lost, the rule of injustice, personal pain and resolute hope. And if we don’t listen, the erosion might continue unabated. Aside from being a stunning album, ‘England Green & England Grey’ prompts us to save what’s going before it’s gone forever.

Find ‘England Green & England Grey’ here: www.regmeuross.com

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

LINK TO REVIEW ON FOLKWORDS WEBSITE

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Review – England Green & England Grey FATEA Magazine John Knighton

http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/2014/RegMeuross.html

Reg MeurossReg Meuross
Album: England Green & England Grey
Label: Hatsongs
Tracks: 12
Website: http://www.regmeuross.com/
“It was only last year when I had the pleasure of hosting a concert in Bedale, North Yorkshire featuring as quietly spoken singer-songwriter called Reg Meuross.

And what a concert. Sublime songs from start to finish. A consummate storyteller who held the audience in raptures. So it was with a tinge of excitement (quite a rare thing these days…) I received Reg’s latest offering.

It has been said that Reg Meuross is one of England’s finest songwriters who deserves wider exposure. I have to agree.

This album is packed with gems. From the jaunty opener What Would William Morris Say we are taken on a journey that introduces us to Tony Benn, John Bull, Cecil Sharp, political comment, dementia, the Titanic and the wonderful story of Flora Sandes – the only British woman to officially fight in the first world war.

The title track, a modern anthem for these times, packs a punch with its spiky commentary accompanied by a lilting tune:

“How can a man respect a man who steals his house and sells his land,
And takes the wages from his hand to pay his own expenses,
The NHS our England’s jewel is bartered by Westminster’s fool,
To justify his public school and military defences”

Throughout Reg is ably assisted by a wonderful supporting cast. Jess Vincent’s backing vocals and Phil Henry’s dobro shine through.

I particularly enjoyed Counting My Footsteps to You – a song which tries to make sense of dementia – a subject close to mine and many other’s hearts – a simple DADGAD arrangement allows the poignant words to resonate.

The closing track tells the story of Flora Sandes, a St John’s Ambulance volunteer who travelled to Serbia and was enlisted in the Serbian Army.

It is great credit to Reg that he had me surfing the Net to find out more about Flora. A truly inspirational story.

It’s a shame the wonderful lyrics are not included with the CD. The packaging is minimal. But they are available on Reg’s website – www.regmeuross.com – and I heartily recommend you check them out. Here you will also find tips on how to play the songs.

A wonderful collection of songs that deserve to be heard across the land.

Most definitely recommended.”

John Knighton

England Green & England Grey – album review Telegraph – Martin Chilton

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 22.31.57

“In What Would William Morris Say?, the opening track of Reg Meuross’ tenth album, the singer-songwriter quotes from the Victorian writer and campaigner’s poem The Message of the March Wind:

‘Join hope to our hope and blend sorrow with sorrow,
And seek for men’s love in the short days of life.’

What makes England Green & England Grey such an interesting album is the way Meuross blends hope and sorrow. There is optimism and pride about England’s sweeter things (such as the music of Cecil Sharp), and anger and laments over modern-day corruption, inequality and greed (the MPs expenses scandal gets a mention).

Musically, the album stands up – which is no surprise given the quality of performers involved. Meuross, who sings and plays dulcimer, banjo and harmonica, is joined by Philip Henry (dobro); Roy Dodds (drums); Simon Edwards (bass guitar); Mike Cosgrove (keyboards, accordion); Jess Vincent (backing vocals, shruti box); and Chris Haigh. They create a special melodic treat in the six-minutes-long River Rail & Road, and you can sense the vibrant atmosphere there must have been during the recording on The Grand Cru Barge in London’s St Katherine’s Dock.

The song are not all political, though, and the duet love song Lovesick Johnny brings out the tenderness in Meuross’s voice. My favourite track was The Band Played Sweet Marie, about the violin given by Maria Robinson to her fiancé, Wallace Hartley, the bandleader on the doomed Titanic.

Meuross, incidentally, also runs songwriting workshops, including one in France in October and his native Somerset in November.

LINK TO FULL REVIEW HERE

 

 

Review ENGLAND GREEN & ENGLAND GREY by Tamsin Rosewell Radio Warwickshire

The first review of England Green & England Grey and it’s a beauty:

“This collection of songs is beautiful; fascinatingly lovely and utterly captivating.

….music that explodes into a thousand pretty flowers to seduce you, and then pricks you all over with tiny thorns to remind you that where there is beauty there is also pain.

This album is an important one; for his careful political expression alone, we should hold this artist in high esteem. 

…. this is social philosophy as it should be: politics expressed with love and emotion

……the lyrics are so well chosen that, even when you’ve listened a dozen times and begin to think that you know this song now, they continue to unfurl themselves, petal by petal, to reveal nuances of narrative and depths of colour that keep on surprising you. The storytelling is superb……

It has a pastoral quality too; ( but for me it) [that] evokes the jewel-coloured, shadowy and torn landscapes of William Blake and Samuel Palmer, full of religious dread and political turbulence.”

FULL REVIEW by Tamsin Rosewell:

http://radiowarwickshire.com/reg-meuross/

2 Comments
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