“This is the rhythm of the night…”

So I got to reminiscing about my lovely little festival, that has been out of the scene for three years now, and I want it to come back; so here’s to hoping…

Dear people of Redfest,

This message is a plea to bring back this wonderful festival.

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Photo source: http://www.deadpress.co.uk

I attended in 2013 and ’14, seeing Bastille headline was my first ever festival experience at seventeen years old, squashed in a dark field, slightly high off the fumes of others’ weed, jumping about to ‘Rhythm Of The Night’ and what a fucking amazing night it was.

You guys always had the knack for picking amazing artists just as they were on their way up. Bastille, Lucy Rose, Ed Sheeran,  Lewis Watson (hell, you were even set down for Catfish and the Bottlemen three years back!)…all musicians I discovered through your festival and still listen to now.

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Photo source: http://www.buckleuppromotions.com

The best discovery was Hudson Taylor, who remain one of my favourite bands to this day, after looking them up when they were announced for the 2014 line up. Months later I had become engrossed in their back catalogue, and found myself dancing around to ‘Battles’ with a bunch of friends and friendly strangers as the sun began to set; again, one of my favourite memories.

There’s plenty I miss about Redfest, the build up of excitement for the line up announcement and then the countdown for the festival itself. Let’s face it, my little Redhill hasn’t got too much going for it, but Redfest was a beautiful hub that gave myself, and others around me, a place to cut loose and enjoy the music in front of us.

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Photo source: http://www.efestivals.co.uk

Yes, there are other live music festivals such as New Music Fest (which I attended back in 2015; my first year Redfest-less) and while the night was lovely and burned with the warm glow of talented musicians, it’s more of a family-orientated kind of night and not the kind of loud I’m looking for.

Which begs the question, what do the wandering music youths have now?

Sure we can travel out to Hyde Park or Reading and Leeds if we’re feeling adventurous but the ticket prices are astronomical, and the travel’s not much better, and what you receive for your money just doesn’t add up in my opinion.

I miss having something on my doorstep to get excited and take pride in goddammit! It made me proud of my little rundown town to think of all the talented artists we’ve had play here.

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Photo source: http://www.escapismmagazine.com

Young people’s minds are under threat from the negative impact of the overwhelming effect and smothering presence of social media, we need more external things to get excited about and bring us out of our shells, so people will stop looking into their phones and start looking out at what’s around them. Redfest was one of those things, something wonderful and worthwhile to get lost in, and currently it’s absent, with nothing filling the void.

While my journey will be moving me away from Redhill this Summer, I want this festival back more than ever, not only to ensure those still in Surrey have their beautiful music back but to keep me connected to my little town. And I promise, I would walk back to it, every year.

Another mad dream to pitch while I’m at it, I’m still reeling over the heartbreak of Catfish and the Bottlemen cancelling in 2014, running into Robin’s Cook Farm and finding no Catfish on the stage, well I was a tad gutted. I say they owe us that gig. I want them to play in my hometown, so 2018 headliner?

I hope this sparks the field to be lit up once more.

All the love,

G. X

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“We need to save the present from a future without memory.”

If you have any kind of love for music and yet haven’t read I’m not with the band please go out and enlighten yourselves, then this might make a bit more sense. Otherwise, enjoy the words.

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Dear Sylvia,

This is my love letter to you, not one that NME dish out to artists that have tickled their whimsical parts, but an authentic one of openness and honesty about my admiration for the way you put words together.

I’d like to begin by pronouncing my fellow detest at the vapid and over-styled nature of today’s music culture, I’m not saying that all of it is shite, not by any means, just that the gems are becoming harder to find amongst the thriving, popular “chart-toppers”.

Quick side note: I couldn’t tell a man thrusting a free NME in my face, one fine Waterloo walk, to fuck off fast enough. As a music mag they should at least possess the consistency to take an opinion of an artist/band and stand by it, rather than telling certain Bottlemen that they’re “ham-fisted”, “nine years too late” and then loving them up upon next encounter. 

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Hard at work. Photo Source: Noisey

Back to the book, your musical story is one that caught my attention from the cover, A Writer’s Life Lost In Music, felt like the core of my being summed up in a single sentence. The book reeled me in further with each chapter passed, until was nose was practically pressed into the page by the end of it. You write with such a wonderful brashness and also heartfelt sensitivity, the words ebbing and flowing like waves on the page.

The story always felt grounded in your financial struggle, one that I’m in the midst of leaping into, as I stand toes curled around the edge of the diving board, ready to jump into the whirlpool of living in London and freelance writing. So thank you for reassuring me that graft and grit can see you through the situations, no matter how tricky!

Sylvia Patterson getting into the festival spirit
Getting cuffed at T in the Park. Photo Source: Herald Sctoland

Your sentiments about the ever-changing nature of music culture sparked up my mind, and resounded with the views I hold in there. Music culture does feel like it’s evaporated somewhat, a lost art form wandering in purgatory wondering when it shall be brought back down to Earth. And I say by the likes of unpolished musicians who are writing tunes worth their fucking salt, who are committed to the live moment onstage and are about delivering mass euphoria to the people who have come to feel it. 

I’m a nineties bern, sadly I was a mere babe when the Britpop wars were being fought; guess I missed the last big boat to being a rebellious teenager. Never mind, eh? I’ll just have to make me own.

If there was any passage of words to get the people fired up about making the most of this life, it was the last page of your book, it should be on posters plastered all over this world; a reminder to find what’s really important. 

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With Jarvis. Photo source: PressReader

In an age that’s obsessed with how they look as a snapchat filter, or how many virtual friendships they can cook up, it has never been more important to “burn away the bollocks” of all that over-hyped nonsense and “find the euphoria” of this wonderful life. 

For me, it’s as simple as live music, putting a pen to paper and laughing really fucking loud with another person.

Sylvia, unlike Amy Winehouse, I don’t view you as some old git that I can’t understand. To me, you sound like a lady who has jumped, frolicked and splashed in the clear and muddy puddles of this life; embraced the rain and occasional E and still come out dry and smiling. 

You are a beautifully talented writer and above all else I admire and respect your commitment to the music. 

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Posing with Mariah. Photo source: The Guardian

Given that this is in the form of a blog post, I can’t help but feel this is a somewhat contradictory format; given the overwhelming culture of bloggers, vloggers and youtuber book deals (FUCK THAT.) But alas these are the times we’re living in, and you’ve just gotta roll with it. (The Gallagher brothers, from your description, sound as beautifully madferit as I hoped.) I couldn’t give two true fucks about style, but I do want my words to be seen and unfortunately now these two walk firmly hand in hand and don’t show signs of breaking up anytime soon. 

So I shall play the game and push as hard as I can and when I’ve broken through that wall, I shall burn away the stylised bollocks of the internet for all the world to see. 

But for now, I’ll stick to keeping my euphorias burning bright and holding on to what’s important in my life.

I hope these words find your eyes, dear Sylvia, and if it all sounds a bit impersonal; I shall write you a letter.

G. X

 

“I am an old soul. I like old movies, old music and even old people.”

There are plenty of coming-of-age films out there, all with the wholesome intention of reaching out to those kids who are struggling, wading through their problems and feeling like they’re not getting that far with it all. They serve to say something useful, something reassuring and something true.

There’s a wealth of them out there that I clung to in my teens and am still clinging to right now in my twenties: Richard Linklater’s, ‘Boyhood’, John Hughes’ ‘The Breakfast Club’, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s ‘Me, Earl and The Dying Girl’ and, of course the British beauty that is, Gurinder Chadha’s ‘Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging’.

What connects these four great movies is that they’re all honest representations, I feel, of youth in its various shapes and sizes. The awkwardness, the insecurity, feeling rejected and wanting to feel wanted.

‘The Edge of Seventeen’ slots perfectly into this esteemed string of pearls that I’ve been collecting over the years.

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Photo Source: IMDB

Starring Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine Franklin, a teen struggling to swim through the depths of high school. It’s the same blueprint I know, but just wait, it’s gets far more interesting than most.

The film begins with Nadine confessing to her teacher, Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson- see WAY more interesting already, right?), about her plan to commit suicide. The film veers sharply away from Hollywood’s want of a comforting, and appropriate, adult response with Woody’s wit and charm completely shining in this support role; inadvertently making him an inspirational figure in the way that she needs.

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Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson) telling Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) how it is. Photo Source: http://www.rogerebert.com

We skip swiftly back in time, four years, to see the origin of the mess on the home front. Losing her Dad to a heart attack one gloomy car ride home created a rebel-guardian divide between herself a her Mum, Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) and as a result allowed her to slip into the all-consuming role of the less favoured sibling.

Her older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), appears to be living the ideal life, in her eyes: popular, easy going with a smile to attract miles of friends. Whilst Nadine is a girl evolving into, what she she feels, is a forever inferior figure to those around her.

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Darien (Blake Jenner) and Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) sharing a moment. Photo Source: Pulse Radio

The one salvation gained from all the heartache and headaches is her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Formed in the uncertainty of childhood, the pair have stuck by the side of one another, a bond unbreakable.

So what happens to Nadine’s world when her one salvation and her praised sibling decide to get together?

The chaotic crashing of different feelings that you don’t understand fully and therefore cannot explain to others, appearing on the outside as a destructive youth to those around you, on the outside she now looks like an enigma of a person.

Because that is exactly what being on the edge of seventeen feels like, and that’s why this film is so brilliant; it encapsulates the essence of its title to a tee, just like the classics.

The phases of what you like and don’t like, what you want versus what you need, the stutters, random actions and conflicting sentences of script provide a real social commentary so relevant for this day and age.

In one of her rants to Mr Bruner, Steinfeld delivers a wonderful satirical monologue on the presence of social media; recently it feels like there’s been a bit of a backlash following the widespread condemning social media platforms, and forms of technology in general.

Even, aware as I am, of the various perks of social media, in terms of our communication abilities, it’s stifling us. Hollowing us out, taking away our true sense of empathy and replacing it with robotic responses, a desire for likes, comments and follows, ultimately resulting in a newly formed film that is a false sense of connection.

‘The Edge of Seventeen’ boldly highlights how awkward and scary it is to say your name and put yourself out there; Nadine’s first encounter with classmate Erwin (Hayden Szeto) is the most honest of hello’s. It’s not breezy and comfortable, it’s stunted and stuttered, and representative of the universal feeling of having the desire to speak but having no sense of what to say. But once you begin hurtling over, or even through, those stumbling blocks those interactions can blossom into beautiful relationships.

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Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) and Erwin (Hayden Szeto) on the edge of a hello. Photo Source: The Scene Magazine

Just because something is tricky, does not mean that it isn’t worth doing.

Beautiful performances are given all round, enhancing the words of Kelly Fremon Craig (who wrote and produced this as well as it being her directorial debut!), her script a witty exploration into the wounds we gain from life and how we can watch them heal slowly, as we walk on.

Her direction maintains its focus whilst fooling us into thinking it doesn’t know where it’s running to; a lovely metaphor for the overall arc of growing up.

It is a piece grounded in realism, change wasn’t presented as a monster made up of nothing but drama, rather as something that just happens.

And though it is often the greatest cause of fear, and cause your emotions to burst in, around and out of you, it is a natural part of the forward motion that is life.

After all, as Woody Harrelson so beautifully phrases it,

“Life’s about taking risks. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.”

 

“I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel…”

Recently Marvel seems to be striped up with this PG, kid-centred, family friendly image; blame it on all those Primark tops and incessant branding of any object that can fit on the logo. But when you go back to the roots of these stories, the comics, you’ll see the heart possesses a lot more tenacity.

Fast forward twelve years into the future, a quickly degenerating Logan is isolated, in the middle of a wasteland, caring for the professor whose mind is dangerously fluctuating between normality and paralytic fits.

Before I go on, I would just like to say that oscar-worthy performances are given by both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in this grit-infused, action-jammed adventure of a film. The symbiotic relationship conveyed between the pair is so emotionally sensitive you cannot help but let go of a few tears.

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Hugh Jackman in his last go round as the beloved Wolverine Photo Credit: Hollywood Reporter

Dafne Keen is mesmerising as young mutant Laura, on the run from biotechnology corporation Alkali-Transigen, she is taken under Logan’s wing as they help her try and escape from the hands of those who have held her captive for so long.

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Laura (Dafne Keen) preparing for battle… Photo Credit: Empire Magazine

Unlike his long-standing, steady companionship with Charles, the sudden arrival of Laura creates for a relationship based on opposing forces with a dormant of layer of mutual understanding lying at deep beneath all the aggression; given that they’re so similar in nature.

James Mangold keeps the story fast-paced throughout, filling the two hours and twenty one minutes with an abundance of violence to dispel the theory once and for all that Marvel has lost its edge.

The hints of Johnny Cash featured in the soundtrack as well as the beautiful inclusion of the 1953 classic Shane glittered the piece with qualities of cinematic genius. Collective scriptwriters, Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green keep the words rooted in history, possibly to reflect the timelessness of this much loved story arc.

All in all, this rough cut diamond of a film, is one that will hopefully be watched and celebrated for many years to come.

“Now that you’re gone, I feel so alone and I hate the silence…”

Fresh off the back of mod musical All Or Nothing’s successful first tour, actor-musician Drew-Levi is now preparing to release his debut album.

Tuesday night saw him play at Farringdon’s Piano Works; this suave and characterful music establishment provides the perfect platform for unsigned artists to showcase their songwriting talents.

Opening with a cover of Ed Sheeran’s A Team, Drew immediately demonstrated his craft over the piano; he taught himself to play after being inspired by Elton John, having briefly met him whilst being in the 2005 cast of Billy Elliot. His voice flowed gently through Sheeran’s famous folk ballad, his tone possessing a strength that was confident in playing around with the melody.

Watch Drew’s cover of A Team here.

The singer-songwriter then went into an original song, What If, co-written with Devin Belle and David Thomas this uplifting pop number talks of seizing life’s opportunities. This contrasted greatly when the song that followed, Summer Fling, a soft, piano-centred beauty that created a vibe that, to me, felt as smooth as Ella Fitzgerald’s Summertime.

My personal highlight came when Drew played the title track off of his EP, Just Call. Again, Drew’s skills as a pianist are showed off in this beautifully layered song. As impactful as it was to listen to live, there are also many perks of listening online; percussion, strings and harmonies are delightfully put together to create this atmospheric number.

Watch Drew’s performance of Just Call here. 

The set ended with another original, this time a rap-based song, Best British Single; a surprising end to his set, but ultimately one that demonstrated Drew’s versatility, freedom and ambition as an artist.

“We were soaring up through the clouds above, We were flying high on our wings of love…”

Even the most daring of TV shows rarely satisfies the dark humour that we relish in sharing in my house, until we found Uncle.

This beautifully British comedy drama thrives on finding the funny in any subject, no matter how improbable you think that might be, and it does so with charm, grace and wit.

With Nick Helm as Uncle Andy, the piece is already on steady shoulders with Nick comfortably bringing to life this loveable disaster of a man. However it is the close friendship between Andy and his teenage nephew Errol (Elliot Speller-Gillott) that is the show’s unique selling point, for me.

The pair maintains a beautiful symbiotic relationship that evolves effortlessly from series to series. The writing (Oliver Refson, Lilah Vandenburgh) is the perfect mix of gallows humour, cynicism and pure heart.

The show is formed of an unconventional family unit with Andy, Errol and Errol’s Mum Sam (Daisy Haggard) sitting at the centre, the tie filters all the way across Uncle’s unforgettable supporting characters: Sam’s ever-chirpy and all round sweet heart of a partner, Bruce, and his stepdaughter Tiff, Andy’s temperamental ex Gwen, her inked up bassist boyfriend, Casper and her Dad, Val; as well as plenty of other familiar faces. You can affectionately guess that they are as close off screen, considering what a wonderful, fucked up family they all make on it.

On its final series now, Uncle is a show that I will deeply miss. Not only for its interludes of good music and the surreal videos in which they feature, or for the talented cast and crew that help to bring us thirty minute doses of something real and special. I will miss Uncle for its spiky voice and the volume with which it would use to laugh at loss, heartbreak, drugs, love, young love, isolation, cancer, and in the last minute of each episode would it stop and whisper something profound.

Catch up with all episodes of Uncle on demand

“So come and show me what you want…”

Discovering new music is something I’ve always rejoiced in, and my 2017 got off to blissful start when I stumbled across a five-piece indie British indie band by the name of Blossoms.

Their self-titled second album has already received roaring success last year, topping the charts and keeping the number one spot for two weeks. These lads from Stockport, led by front man Tom Ogden, sure know how to make beautiful melodies…

The album is a vast selection of songs of varying paces, tones and sounds; make sure you purchase the extended edition to really get the full feel of the noise they can create. It begins with arguably their biggest hit, Charlemagne, an upbeat, synth-sounding pop number filled with raspy vocals that really draw you in. Tones become softer and deeper as you reach the likes of Getaway, a soothing song centred on the turmoil of letting someone go.

Blown Rose is the song that first introduced me to the band, a YouTube advert that finally led me to something worthwhile. The aesthetics of the video seemed reminiscent of Lewis Watson’s Stay, an eerie style shoot filmed at Hammerwood Park (former home of Led Zepplin) contrasting greatly with the fast-paced nature of the song.

By the time you’re over halfway through the track list, you meet melodious, lullaby-type numbers like Winters Kiss, Stormy and For Evelyn. The amazing thing is each song creates the same sort of feeling but in exceptionally different ways. Winters Kiss is centred on group harmonies; Stormy is an acoustic guitar driven piece whilst For Evelyn is showcased through the piano. I was taken aback by the richness of the range of Blossoms’ back catalogue, which is why the extended edition is all the more worth buying.

Listening to their album is an experience that I’m happy to immerse myself in over and over again; it’s well crafted, emotive and mood provoking; just as music should be.

With Blossoms, and any artist really, I urge you to go beyond listening to one song before you make a judgement. In a society that is so centred on everything being of a fast-paced nature, we’re getting quicker at skipping through songs thus allowing us to hear everything and appreciate nothing. When someone asks, “Who are you a fan of?” You’ll be able to name song titles rather than artists. Take the time to listen to someone else’s creation in its entirety and you might just find something you love.

“City of stars, are you shining just for me?”

This morning I found myself sitting in a cinema, waiting to be dazzled by La La Land, just over two hours later I left the screen, my eyes twinkling with specs of stars.

This modern day musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as two creatives (an actress and a jazz musician) both with big plans but struggling to reach them. Inevitably Mia and Seb’s paths cross several times, and from there true love eventually follows; it sounds cheesy I know, but I promise you this beautiful body of work is the exact opposite.

Having seen one of director Damien Chazele’s previous films, Whiplash, I anticipated bold moves to be made in this contemporary piece. The aesthetics of La La Land are something to marvel over first of all, set in sun-drenched Los Angeles, the movie buzzes with bright skies, night lights and a sense of effortless cool with every move made. The script was slick and yet full of heart and soul, as Mia and Seb’s relationship endures blissful highs and painful lows. The story carries an ethereal quality with it, matching the sense of hyper reality created through the visuals.

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Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) strolling the pier. Photo source: etonline.com

 

Justin Hurwitz’s score for the film is the next fundamental building block in the film’s artistry. The intricate melodies weave in and out the story, and provide the film with the purest sense of grace, shaping the piece wonderfully.

Ryan and Emma are flawless as a couple, and well shaped as their individual characters; not once did the film feel silly and frivolous, but rather was kept grounded by their tremendous skills as performers. I had to stare, my expression that of dumbfounded, at Ryan’s ability to play the piano, embodying all the skills of a true jazz pianist. Emma adds an adorable quirky refinement to Mia, her voice soft and mellifluous, taking the universal role of ‘struggling actress’ and making it refreshingly sincere.

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Mia (Emma Stone) looking for her Rebel Without A Cause. Photo source: laineygossip.com

People didn’t burst into song every five seconds, nor do things work out as you might expect, there are many messages to be absorbed from La La Land and in it’s in the moments of silence that this musical really sings.

“I share, therefore I am.”

Sometimes the biggest ideas can be found in the smallest of spaces, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon one in the humble space of Theatre N16.

This Might Be It is an exploratory piece centred on the issue of loneliness, devised by Vantage Point Theatre; a company in its infancy made up of performers and artists from around the world, dedicated to questioning aspects of the life we lead.

Loneliness, and what it means to be lonely especially in this day and age is a subject that most only dare to scratch the surface but rarely make the centre of their work. The heavy connotations that stem from loneliness, made me wonder if seeing a piece dedicated to its exploration might be overwhelming to watch, but I found it to be further from that imagined truth than I thought possible.

The company of seven presented a variety characters and in turn different sectors of loneliness. The piece a series of situational snippets into the isolated lives of these people: a wife with a depressive husband, a man that can’t speak to women and another that fights to converse with a machine. The crosscutting was effectively used and allowed for a good balance between exploring the questions that lie at the core of feeling isolated and making light of areas like our collective social anxiety.

It was a liberating piece of theatre to watch, to be allowed to laugh at such at weighty subject matters whilst also stopping to look upon its repercussions made for the most interesting theatre experience I’ve had in a long while.

Not only is This Might Be It an impressive observational piece, but it’s a great mirror for self-reflection amongst the audience. I left Theatre N16 feeling more in tune with myself than I had in some time, I was suddenly more aware of my fear of being misidentified by others, because at the end of the day we all extend ourselves through conversation in the hope that others will see us for who we truly are, and that we won’t end up lonely.

I hope to see project grow and expand into the New Year, so it can reach more people. But for this week, I urge you to see it while it’s here and become a part of this much-needed conversation.

This Might Be It is on until 8th December, tickets available here

“He leaves his heart out there with these words…”

London-based singer-songwriter, Steve Dagleish’s second album, Yours For Eternity is presented as a love letter and inside the stories of the lost and the lonely. The songs are soaked in great sense of sentiment with Steve weaving a tapestry of wonderful characters together in the gentle sounds of this album.

The track list begins with Hello Son, a softly sung ballad filled with loving words from a mother to her child. The melody is intricate and free flowing, like a campfire song being sung at sunset. The tone shifts dramatically to Govenor of Sombrero, a stripped back a cappella track. The raw tones of Steve’s voice bring atmosphere and weight to this sea shanty-like tale of a father recounting losing his son to The Royal Navy; based on the history of Robert Jeffrey.

Emily Stands Strong sits on the list as a tribute to the life and work of Emily Hobhouse, a woman who challenged the reasoning behind the Second Boer War. The rhythmic quality to the song gives it a dark lullaby feel, the strength of the lyrics providing strong mental imagery for me as I listened to its words.

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Lyric book accompaniment for Yours For Eternity Photo Credit: Grace Mitchell

The title track, Yours For Eternity, represents the heart of the album’s message for me. This tragic love song is rooted in a relationship between soldier Henry Coulter and his lover, Lucy Townend. Steve’s wonderful ability to create characters littered with such fine details, allows you to feel the reality of the distance present in this lost relationship. Marriage St./Road to Mary provides an instrumental link to our next story and allows Steve to show his flair as a guitarist.

The theme of distance is carried through into Miss Sweeney, the melody and tones more light-hearted but the message of the song no less dense with feeling. This song contains a favourite lyric of mine, ‘He sold his place in heaven for the world that Molly wanders’ an eloquent description of the strength of a parent. Benjamin Grey stresses the importance of love in a life consumed with trouble, another of Steve’s characters awakened through the wonderful sense of vulnerability in his lyrics.

The last four songs of the album felt the most intense, in terms of expression of feeling, for me it’s where Steve’s skill as a storyteller really reaches its peak. King of the Mountain tells the solemn tale of a lonely existence, a man who has everything material yet nothing substantial. Bring Down The Sky reminded me of my Northern roots, waves of nostalgia crashing over me through vivid imagery conjured by the lyrics.

Last Act at Bar 62, a quiet expression of one musician’s struggle to be heard, such powerful sentiments expressed in the softest of tones. And finally we end on my favourite track of the album, Waiting for the one, which like most songs on the album brings with it the sweet sense of home and one woman’s longing for different circumstances. Steve’s voice dances gracefully around the melody and left my mind walking through her story.

My heaven is on the ground when I reach your time…