Review Archive

‘In A Box’ from Megson - arresting vocals, delicious harmonies, intricate musical tapestry

(April 26, 2014)

With a combined ocean of talent between them, Debbie and Stu Hanna, aka Megson, continue to In A Box - Megsonrepresent yet another bastion of English folk music with their sixth album ‘In A Box’. And should anyone be at all concerned that our narrative folk tradition is anything but alive, well and flourishing then take home a copy of this album and be utterly reassured. From the awesome poignancy of ‘Clifton Hall Mine’ relating the awful mining disaster, through the jaunty sarcasm and cautionary tale of ‘Bet Beesley & Her Wooden Man’ to the reflective tale of ‘Charlie The Newsmonger’ there’s a blend of arresting vocals, delicious harmonies, intricate musical tapestry and passionate storytelling.

This album ranges between traditional lyrics allied to wonderfully attractive musical arrangements and lovingly crafted, self-penned histories telling moving, subtle and tough tales. Debbie and Stu give their own personal heritage a cutting edge with the deeply moving ‘The River Never Dies’ while the perceptive observations of ‘Dirty Clothes’ make it one of those enduring songs that touches everyone – listen to the lyrics and tell me you can’t identify with every word. They return to their delivery of evocative stories with the legend of ‘Moses Carpenter’ a Mohawk Indian, written into a slice of pathos-filled human history.

As I said at the outset, Megson rank among those artists that hold the heritage of these islands safe in their hands, whether they reflect traditional tales and through their music give them new energy or treat you to their own insightful views of life lived by everyone. This album will become a classic, no doubt, no question.

Along with Debbie (vocals, accordion, whistle) and Stu Hanna (vocals, octave mandola, guitar, piano, percussion, mandolin), guests on selected tracks include Seth Lakeman (fiddle) Jess Morgan (backing vocals) Ben Savage (dobro) Jade Rhiannon (backing vocals) and Cliff Ward (fiddle).

‘In A Box’ releases on EDJ Records on 12 May 2014.

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Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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