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Hands On Music HMCD26

Eight years between solo albums might make one think that SK is not particularly prolific, but he is better known as the wild and mysterious looking member of Show of Hands, who recently triumphed in their third ‘Big Gig’ at the Albert Hall.  This collection of songs is a well-balanced showcase of Knightley’s writing talents, with mostly the simplest of acoustic accompaniments to his dulcet tones.  Insert notes that seem on first viewing to be extensive miss out vital information – like who plays keyboards on the title track for example.

Never one to skirt difficult issues, here we have multiple child drownings in the River Dart, the heroin trade, village miscreants, the Iraq war, cattle rustling, faux existentialism.  No tender loves songs then!  Despite all the potential for depression in the subject matter, the delivery is uplifting and soothing, especially on the covers (Gary Fjellgaard’s Caragena Wind and the Dire Straits classic Romeo and Juliet).  What of the other songs then – you may well ask!  Raining Again could be the theme tune of this awful summer (especially if Show of Hands get around to performing it on the festival circuit this year).  All Quiet On The Western Front has more than a passing nod at the Elton John song of the same name, and Tout Va Bien? is a song of multiple questions (including ‘why bother translating it in the first place?’).  The total effect is tight and well balanced, as expected from this artiste, and, minor quibbles apart, deserves to further elevate the windswept and interesting one.

Grem Devlin


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This album was reviewed in Issue 75 of The Living Tradition magazine.