Tuesday, 14 October 2014

PEGGY SEEGER - ALBUM REVIEW

Peggy Seeger - Everything Changes (Signet Music/Red Grape) 
Peggy Seeger - Everything Changes

When I was a lad, my sister used to keep her Easter eggs for months until the chocolate had developed that white tinge and were pretty much beyond use - a crime to a younger, chocolate hungry brother who had long since scoffed his eggs. However, I fell in to the same, sticky trap of delaying gratification with this album. So excited was I to get this new material from the legendary Peggy Seeger that I have been waiting with eager anticipation to review it and have then enjoyed it so much that the release date has come and gone. Nevertheless, this is one of those albums that shouldn't be ignored due to its beauty, simplicity and general approach of substance over style - all things you would expect from this enduring artist. Even the album artwork - a musician staring down the train tracks holding her guitar case - might seem a little cheesy in the wrong hands but in this instance, coupled with the 'Everything Changes' title, it seems wholly appropriate.

The album opens with 'Swim To The Star' and instantly that simplicity is apparent with its seemingly sparse musicianship and warm tones which are intriguing in a song written to mark 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic. The gorgeous lullaby of 'Go To Sleep' has a darker lyrical meaning but as a melody and soft vocal performance could tame even the most savage of beasts. On 'Nero's Children' Seeger turns to a more smoky Jazz influence while 'We Watch You Slip Away' is a piano and vocal lament about the ravages of old age. There is a more contemporary feel to 'Flowers By The Roadside' - on of many songs co-written with Seeger's son Calum MacColl - which would fit in with the oeuvre of the XX or Laura Marling due to the sparse melody and atmospheric feel. There's a return to the piano only accompaniment on 'When Fairy Stories End' and anyone who doesn't have a lump in their throat or at least an urge to call their mother by the end of this song is pretty much dead inside.

Overall this is a fairly dark collection of songs with the mood of someone looking back down the railway tracks of their life at the emotional peaks and troughs. However, Seeger has always had a wry sense of humour and that comes through on her version of 'Do You Believe In Me?' performed with a real sense of mischief and fun as it takes on the mythical characters we all grow up with. The folky, almost childlike simplicity of 'Over The Mountain To You' lilts and sways like a Willow in a warm summer breeze on the banks of a Louisiana river. Always one to stick up for herself and her sisters, Seeger exudes quiet self-confidence on 'You Don't Know How Lucky You Are' while Rutthy Taubb's 'Miss Heroin' gets the full swirling, snaking, malevolent treatment with guitars winding round your senses while the percussion hypnotises you. The title track closes the album and 'Everything Changes' is, again, a simple ode to less complicated time overseen by Seeger's mother where values mattered and there was time to catch a thought before it became out of date.

The beautiful thing about this album is the way it feels both contemporary and classic simultaneously. 'Everything Changes' will fit in perfectly with Seeger's previous work but will also introduce a whole new generation to a way of songwriting that isn't driven by radio minutes or a killer chorus, more by storytelling and getting a message to all those awake enough to listen. Are you awake enough? I hope so, for your sake.


More information: www.peggyseeger.com

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