Brand new album from one of John Peel's early favourites shows that there is a future for musical protest.
It's been three years since Trevor Midgeley (AKA Beau) released an album of new material. Last year did however see the release of a lost album from the 1970s, a vinyl-only release entitled Twelve Strings to The Beau (You can read the full review here). This month Cherry Red are releasing a new album, Fly The Bluebird. As one would expect it's generously packed with wordy, intelligent folk-based songs that you don't often here these days, and harks back to the golden era of singer-song-writers. Think Bob Dylan, or Leonard Cohen. Though with a distinctly English perspective.
It's 45 years since his first album helped launch John Peel's Dandelion label. His sound has hardly altered in the ensuing years, he still backs himself with the same Harmony 12-string guitar, his recordings are simple - just one voice, and the one guitar. This continuity of sound, and disregard for changing fashions is to be admired, especially as none of his powers are diminished. If anything the advancing of years adds weight and authority to his songwriting. The voice and playing are also as strong as ever.
Though many of the songs are informed by modern political events they have a timeless quality, sounding like they could have been written in 2014, 1969 or for that matter 1869. Poetic and rich with imagery, there's a lot to absorb from the songs here. From environmental issues, through to skilful broadswords against capitalism, tyranny, terrorism and war, the songs have a biting social agenda not at first apparent due to the offsetting gentleness of much of the music.
Aside from the politics there's light relief as Beau weighs into a character we've all met, the overbearing social bore he documents on “A Curious Man”. There's also a sensitive treatise on the cruel effects of dementia in “When Gabriel Turns”. Humanistic, compassionate and full of love for mankind and what lies ahead as we head into the unknown future, it would seem that those supposedly outdated hippie ideals from the late '60s are very much alive if not so widely embraced. Perhaps we need them more than ever. Many more widely recognised musicians of Beau's generation have neglected these ideals, whereas he may just be the true keeper of the flame.
Click here for more on Beau.