Week two and Chris offers what initially appears as the first of the album’s real surprises. Firstly there’s the common association with the hymnal treatment of Blake’s poem, Jerusalem, courtesy of Sir Hubert Parry’s tune, which one would think is not Chris’ natural territory. Then there’s that Hammond organ sound that Chris envisaged as central to this record.
On that first point, Chris has demonstrated a willingness to engage with spiritual belief and Come Down Jehovah from Trespasser is an obvious and shining example. I guess one parallel here is that Blake’s poem is actually more ambivalent and questioning, taking the perspective of the common people rather than the self appointed arbiters of our spiritual wellbeing, the rich, powerful and conspicuously godly.
He may also have a point as he explains, “I woke at 4am one morning. Anyone trying to feed their family by making music knows that 4am is the hour of the wolf. Blake’s poem was in my head but I could not remember it accurately because of the monster tune that Hubert Parry put to it. I got up and hunted down the words in an actual book and, without Parry’s music I could plainly see that this was a 4am poem. Four questions which I believe Blake asks because he feels the answer may be, “no”. The tune came to me there and then… In the dark. Paul Gilroy, writer on post colonial Britain, contacted me to ask if he could use it in a lecture he does at Kings.”
Justin Mitchel’s organ negotiates a course between the ,Sunday best’ and a slowly, slowly simmering groove, accentuated by Neil Harland’s rich, woody bass, freed of the ‘Bim-Bom’ requirements of the opener and hitting an altogether higher plain. Perhaps a small slice of Heaven has indeed been created here.
Review by: Simon Holland
Chris talks about getting no wiser:
BUY THE ALBUM
25 April West End Centre, Queens Road, ALDERSHOT Surrey GU11 3JD.
01252 330040 / www.westendcentre.co.uk
26 April The Anvil, Churchill Way, BASINGSTOKE, Hants, RG21 7QR.
01256 844 244 / www.anvilarts.org.uk
29 April The Junction, Clifton Way, CAMBRIDGE CB1 7GX.
01223 511511 / www.junction.co.uk
30 April The Stables‐Stage 1, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, MILTON KEYNES MK17 8LU.
01908 280800 / www.stables.org
1 May The Sage Gateshead, St Mary’s Square, Gateshead Quays, GATESHEAD NE8 2JR.
0191 443 4661 / www.thesagegateshead.org
4 May Sheffield Central Library Theatre, Tudor Square, SHEFFIELD S1 1XZ.
07835 966810 / www.wegottickets.com
5 May South Lakes Rootsfest, Lane Farm, Crocklands, MILTHORPE Cumbria LA7 7NH.
0114 2349979 / www.wegottickets.com
9 May St George’s Bristol, Great George Street, off Park Street, BRISTOL BS1 5RR.
0845 4024001 / www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk
10 May Electric Palace, 35 South Street, BRIDPORT Dorset DT6 3NY.
01308 426336 / www.electricpalace.org.uk
11 May The Acorn Theatre, Parade Street, PENZANCE Cornwall TR18 4BU.
01736 365520 ‐ box office / www.acorntheatre.co.uk
12 May Topsham Folk Club, Matthews Hall, Fore Street, TOPSHAM, Devon, EX3 0HF.
01404 44498 / www.topshamfolkclub.co.uk
16 May Theatre Severn, Frankwell Quay, SHREWSBURY Shropshire SY3 8HQ.
01743 281281 / www.theatresevern.co.uk
17 May Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, The Precincts, CANTERBURY, Kent CT1 2EH
01227 831493 / www.folkinthebarn.co.uk / Box Office firstname.lastname@example.org
21 May St George’s Hall Liverpool, St George’s Place, LIVERPOOL Merseyside L1 1JJ.
0151 709 3789 / www.liverpoolphil.com
22 May The Glee Club, BIRMINGHAM
Box Office: www.glee.co.uk/birmingham‐music / 0871 472 0400
23 May Union Chapel, Compton Avenue, Islington, LONDON N1 2UN.
08444 771 000 / www.pulluptheroots.co.uk
24 May The Guildhall Derby, Derby Assembly Rooms, Market Place, DERBY DE1 3AH.
01332 255800 / www.assemblyrooms‐derby.co.uk
25 May Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street, WINCHESTER, Hants, SO23 8SB
01962 873603 / www.hants.gov.uk/wdc
26 May The Basement, 24 Kensington Street, BRIGHTON, East Sussex, BN1 4AJ.