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MEGSON - Con-tra-dic-shun 

MEGSON - Con-tra-dic-shun 
EDJ Records EDJ023 

The Hanna duo’s ninth studio album presents an emotionally engaging variety of shrewdly sourced trad/folk lyric pieces interwoven with their own characteristically sassy original songs, arranged with their carefully calibrated musical colouring and celebrated vocal interplay. Stu and Debbie are joined by special guests John Parker (double bass), Patrick Duffin (percussion) and Paul Youdan (backing vocals).

The historic material selected includes the intriguingly initialled “northern bard” J.C.’s Voice Of The Nation (1810), a fascinating combatively campaigning clarion call for electoral reform, and Toast: Jackey & Jenny, which interlaces a traditional mantra about inebriate fuddling with James Rewcastle’s lyrics about the potential for betterment through “joining the teetotal”. Later 19th century pieces include a moving rendition of the sad ballad tale, I Drew My Ship Into The Harbour, recounting a timid and tardigrade girl missing her tryst, which involves delightfully deft musical detail exemplifying the tellingly skilled understatement in Megson’s measured arrangements.

In their typically tragic-comic manner, easefully evoking drollery and poignancy, the self-penned songs tackle the tyranny of the quotidian grind (“as we fill up every moment till we die”), village parochialism (Barrington Judo Club - “a motley collection of warriors great and small” who, shockingly, left marks on the village hall’s parquet floor and yet, following their “championship haul”, realised some due form of eventual redemption) and their impassioned assessment of the risks and rewards of caravanning (including some key advice about the hazards of the porta-loo).

Beautifully recorded at the Megson Garage and, recently archly confessed, ‘Caravan Studio’, this is another excellent release with wide commercial appeal.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 128 of The Living Tradition magazine.