‘The Clarke’s Tale - A journey from London to Canterbury’ from Martin Clarke(February 04, 2013)
OK so you choose to take a long (very long) walk to follow the ancient line of pilgrim footsteps from London to Canterbury – and then decide to record an album of images and inspirations that hit you along the way. Fair enough. And to add mood you decide to open the album with a spoken salutation in Chaucerian English. Fair enough too. Who is the man responsible for this mini-anthology? That would be Martin Clarke with his album ‘The Clarke’s Tale - A journey from London to Canterbury’. And not unlike the sometime acidic, often humorous and endearingly personal stories of The Canterbury Tales, these songs convey one man’s view of the experiences, people, sights and landscapes that pepper the journey.
From the introspection and observation of ‘The Solitary Traveller’ to the echoing and wistful ‘Bostal Hill’ you get the impression that you’re peeking into the man’s diary. An intensely personal view of the changes inflicted by the modern world on the old and in some places almost obscured pilgrim trail - Geoffrey Chaucer would have been intrigued. The modernity of the present takes over and treats you to views on images the old pilgrims could never have seen. Songs about modern symbols along the way like the observational ‘Thames Barrier’ with its convoluted lyrics and the quick romp through local history with the narrative ‘Dartford’s not just a bridge and a tunnel’ position the places and interpret Martin’s journey. The gentle pastoral idyll of ‘Gravesend’, the rocky story of the little-known ‘Rochester Submarine’ and the personal appeal of ‘The Day of The Long Walk’ also let you share his thoughts and show how the walk reflected its images and feelings into the songs.
Unquestionably singular, somewhat quirky and certainly interesting ‘The Clarke’s Tale - A journey from London to Canterbury’ is an album that’s definitely worth a listen, perhaps not one you’ll play every day but keep it to savour for those reflective moments we all experience.
Reviewer: Dan Holland