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PETE MORTON - The Land Of Time

PETE MORTON - The Land Of Time
Fellside Recordings FECD269

For close on three decades now, Pete’s been turning out original songs of keen social and right-minded political consciousness, but for some inexplicable reason he’s remained something of a cult figure, immensely well-regarded by his contemporaries and connoisseurs of good songwriting but not (yet) up there in the household-name bracket. Yet there’s no argument that Pete possesses a deep understanding of, and respect for, folk tradition while retaining an acute contemporary sensibility.

Each successive album brings fresh perspectives and genuine insights into the human condition, with sensitive and often biting commentaries that are both strongly voiced and accessibly presented. In the past year or two, Pete’s specialised in the song-form called “frap” (folk-rap), inspired by and creatively developed from the talking blues of the likes of Guthrie and Dylan. The Land Of Time contains several examples, notably Poverty Frap, which draws a parallel between those working in the sweatshops of Bangladesh and their forebears in Yorkshire’s woollen mills; the rousing Old Boston Town, which comments on the arms trade; Slave To The Game, which concerns the exploitation of women in London’s modern underworld, employs the chorus-refrain of Up To The Rigs Of London Town; and The Herefordshire Pilgrim, which takes on the “personificating conversations” of 14th century visionary writer, William Langland.

One Hundred Years Ago is a stirringly up-tempo account of Pete’s grandfather’s wartime experiences and subsequent life (borrowing roughly from tune and structure of I’ll Go No More A-Roving). But it’s probably in the passionately reflective songs like All The Life Before, the melancholy-tinged Lucky and the album’s title song (which personally addresses his own son), that Pete scores greatest memorability. And the instrumental settings, involving the talents of Ciaran Algar, Chris Parkinson, Jon Brindley and James Budden, prove great foils for Pete’s ever-brilliant wordsmithery. Masterly and thought-provoking as ever, Pete just won’t ever let you down.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 112 of The Living Tradition magazine.