This is “Vena Cava” from “Body Mass”, the new Simfonica CD and download album for 2018.
The set will be available from Friday 3rd August (initially through Bandcamp but later through other outlets).
BEAU – Rattle The Asylum Bars
Cherry Red 2018
12-string Quixote states there’s no rest for the wicked until the wrongs of this world are righted.
Another year, another album from Beau; another tear the singer-songwriter’s shedding for this mortal coil, another smile to encourage it to turn. He’s not an observer or a dreamer anymore, though, he’s where the action is, and such inclusiveness makes “Rattle The Asylum Bars” one of the veteran’s most compassionate, sympathetic works. Of course, the “carpe diem” principle would hardly describe the artist who walked away from it all to spend almost four decades out of spotlight, yet if the hymnal pace of “Road To Valhalla” and the righteous, if romantically scented, irony behind “People Like Me” – “join me outside, we’re in the marquee”: there’s a call for some fresh air here – show Trevor Midgley doesn’t seek glory per se, the process of reaching for the fruit of life may itself amount to his ultimate goal.
But death is always nearby, to create contrast with life, and their casualties fall by the wayside, whether it’s a radicalized youngster in “The Only Soldier To Turn Up For The War,” a stardust hypocrite Midgley sarcastically eulogizes in “The Angry Preacher,” or Rachel Whitear whose fate is woven into “The Rose” as a rhyme rather than reason. Still, rhyme and reason go hand in hand when an “s” is pronounced at the end of “Illinois” in “Bugs Moran” – the immaculately literate Trevor’s obligatory history trip – to stress the pointlessness of Prohibition as a means of reducing crime, and the freedom-of-speech cause of the title track can’t be lost on anyone.
The listener must relish the humor of a particular line in “The Apathy Party” because “The less that you shout, then the more you’ll be heard!” could actually be Beau’s approach to delivery of a song, not of a vote, but then he’s always been prone to taking risks. So “The Hawk” with its “take-off is optional, landing is not” refrain is uplifting and didactic at the same time as tragedy was removed from this Icarus tale. An exhilarating album with a twist – a logical follow-up to "When Butterflies Scream" – there’s a record to quietly rebel to.
Beau - Rattle The Asylum Bars
HD's favourite folkie returns with more wry, satirical, protest, commentary and observation.
It's a standing joke among music journalists that there's always a folk revival going on. It's kind of a truth but looked at from another angle it means that folk music never actually goes away, an eternal touchstone and deep well of inspiration for each new generation of musicians. As a genre it occasionally provides the mainstream with crossover stars but for each of those there are countless other artists, often more unique and talented, mining away at the coalface of folk music and adhering to its core principles; giving voice to the marginalised, highlighting injustice, celebrating cooperation and community while also entertaining and actually having fun.
Which bring me to Beau, who is back with a brand new set of songs that does all those things and more. For those unfamiliar with Beau here's a little back story – Beau (AKA Trevor Midgley) was the first artist to record for John Peel's Dandelion label back in the late '60s. He's continued to write, record and play live ever since, amassing an impressive back catalogue of material. His is a stripped down sound, one voice, one Harmony 12-string acoustic guitar, which lets the lyrics take centre stage.
On his new album Rattle The Asylum Bars, Beau shows he's as astute with those lyrics now as he was back on his 1969 debut. The subject matter ranges from historical lessons society has yet to learn, observations on modern foibles, calls for increased compassion and as you'd expect in these strange times, a little political commentary. As ever with Beau's work you come away feeling informed, entertained and aware that the world is more nuanced than “moral absolutists and polemicists” would have us believe.
“Rattle The Asylum Bars” is his ninth album release for the Cherry Red label.
Beau continues to mine dense thickets of erudite imagery set against his eternally chiming 12-string. Amongst the topics are; the tragic events a t Charlie Hebdo in 2015, modern-day radicalising, prohibition America, the shifting politics of lottery winners and more. It’s a record that will continue Beau’s ascent on the folk charts across the globe.