Martin Simpson

The Bramble Briar

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After 12 years of traversing across the U.S. (Simpson moved with his wife, Jessica Radcliff, from upstate New York to Santa Cruz to New Orleans before returning to the United Kingdom in 2001), Martin Simpson has turned in a set of entirely English material. Recorded at both Bear Creek Studios of Santa Cruz and the apropos-to-the-material Panda Sound in Robin Hood's Bay, North Yorks, Simpson is of pure Lincolnshire-quality voice and his playing is exquisitely refined. Longtime Simpson affiliate Martin Carthy accompanies on guitar on three tracks, as does wife Radcliff on backing vocals on two, but it's Simpson's focus on old-English style within the material that lends the album a feel that is both grounded and otherworldly. Ten of the 13 songs included are in fact traditional songs; two are recent compositions and one, "The Four Angels," is a Rudyard Kipling poem Simpson has set to lilting melody. Simpson credits his decade-long distance from his homeland with the sharp perspective he has gained for the music's lyrical and historical expressiveness.

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