Review Archive

‘Borderland’ from Johnny Coppin “… will reach out to stir you.”

(March 20, 2014)

There’s an album from Johnny Coppin you must hear – it’s called ‘Borderland’. If you haven’t Borderland-Johnny Coppinheard it I suggest you do, and then invest a few beer tokens to own a copy. Its predecessor ‘The Winding Stair’ stays among my frequent replays and this one will certainly join that list. With a finely placed eclecticism ‘Borderland’ takes inspiration from England, Ireland, Wales and the USA, mixing moving narratives of leaving home, returning, fighting and dying, and all expounded through tradition, originals and self-penned. As a collection it’s as complete as you could wish.

One constant remains across all Johnny Coppin albums and that’s his rich, commanding and expressive vocals. Whatever the subject, wherever it may be, it’s effortless for his voice to take you there and make you a willing participant in the songs and their message. Take in the simple tale of ‘Joseph Baker’, the perennially poignant‘Homeward’ awash with empathy, and the traditional, oft-sung and many titled ‘The Brazier’s Daughter’ and you’ll find you’re instantly at one with their simple beauty. The mournful ‘When The Morning’s Here’ evokes a pure sense of longing, enhanced by a haunting trumpet, while a trio of deeply profound songs of the First World War cut equally hard – the moving ‘John Condon’, an inspired arrangement of English poet F W Harvey's poem ‘Gloucestershire From Abroad’ and ‘Dream of England’ a powerful testament to being far from home. And if you want to hear a man decant inspired feeling into a closing song listen to ‘Safe Home’ .

The line-up on ‘Borderland’ is Johnny Coppin (vocals, acoustic guitars, piano) Karen Tweed (accordion) and Paul Burgess (violin, recorders) along with support on selected tracks from Mike Silver (harmony vocals) Geoff March (cello) John Neilson (accordion) Kevin Harcourt (flugelhorn, trumpet) and David Pickering Pick (bass, string arrangement).

And to cap it all the CD comes in impressive packaging complete with lyric booklet. Out on Red Sky Records ‘Borderland’ releases on 7 April through Proper Distribution and you can find it here:

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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