Leaves & Feathers Review: Folk N Roots March 2013

Some half-a-dozen albums in, Somerset-based singer-songwriter Reg is still something of a best-kept secret, for all that his talents have been heartily endorsed by Mike Harding. His relatively low profile is all the more surprising when you consider the accessibility of his musical invention, the incisive and engaging nature of his lyrics, and the melodious and pleasing qualities of his singing. His latest album of new songs is another glorious collection, whose special selling-point for his fans is that it responds to their demands for a disc that reflects the intimacy of his live gigs, which either take the form of solo shows or are performed with Beth Porter accompanying him on cello. Notwithstanding that central premise, it’s a set whose very special qualities of warmth and intimacy complement the top-drawer songwriting in such a way that it should prove irresistible to a wider audience. The stripped-down ambience bestows an immediacy that suits the reflective, yearning qualities of the writing, ideally conjured by the gentle colours of guitar and cello and further lovingly, sensitively embellished very occasionally by backing vocals from Jess Vincent, Lily Meuross and Bethany Porter. The majority of the dozen songs concern themselves directly and simply with matters of loss and longing, expressed straightforwardly and clear-sightedly manner. Reg may seem to be stating the obvious in love songs such as All I Really Want and I Need You, but his is a special skill indeed in overcoming any hint of tired cliché with his timeless observations and making such an impression on the listener from first hearing. In these respects, Reg’s wistful meditations can be compared with the best of Ralph McTell, with shades of Allan Taylor, Gerry Rafferty and Don McLean too perhaps if I’m forced to make direct comparisons. The gentle lyricism of Emily’s Pages, which both concerns and invokes the spirit of poet Emily Dickinson, quite strongly (though never derivatively) recalls McTell in particular, whereas the supremely evocative, bittersweet homage My Name Is London Town will I’m sure in time come to rival McTell’s celebrated Streets Of London. Another song recalling McTell in terms of metre and contour is One Cold April Morning, which tellingly voices a lady’s reflection of irredeemable sadness at the love and affection she lacks and so much needs, while If You Wanna Be Mine expresses, almost unbearably tenderly and plaintively, one of true love’s biggest contradictions. On Come Back To me, the loss of a loved one is conveyed through the importance of small objects associated with that person, while the sweet lilt of Weary Jane has the feel of a traditional ballad sung by a courtly minstrel. The somewhat enigmatic I Saw A Woman may recall the writing of Paul Metsers, and contrasts with the more political commentary of My Jerusalem, which mirrors the outstanding My Name Is London Town in its portrayal of the omnipresent dichotomy of innocence and experience. Summing up, Reg has the gift for creating well-crafted songs with seriously beautiful melodies, songs that are uniquely memorable and seem uncannily familiar, and Leaves And Feathers is further proof of the timelessness of his invention; I really can’t term it anything but songwriting genius.

www.regmeuross.com

David Kidman

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Reg Meuross Singer Songwriter Storyteller