‘Random Acts of Kindness’ from Martin Stirrup - wicked lyrics and winning hooks(October 28, 2014)
The attraction of ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ from Martin Stirrup lies in its combination of styles and arrangements together with its wanderings through the reaches of folk music from narrative to ballad, moving into the limitless spread of jazz and touching the edges of folk rock and blues influences. This unrestricted approach on this album delivers a mélange of music that chronicles a collection of observations, experiences and inspirations from a singer/songwriter returning to his roots. It also shows a man that can write fine songs with wicked lyrics and winning hooks.
The opening track ‘Not I’ lays out a ‘love-me leave-me’ tale over skillfully fingerpicked guitar with questing vocal, before it’s all change with the soft jazzy groove of ‘Dreaming of You Baby’ and the blues-inspired drive of ‘Needle in Your Arm’ with enveloping saxophone accents. Folk rock flows through ‘Queen of the Nile’ with its intriguing fairground waltz - in itself a supremely engaging song showcasing Stirrup’s voice. The involving ‘Sometimes it’s Gotta Rain’ takes hold, and for lovers of folk narrative there’s ‘Alison Easy’ another bite of tradition with its tongue-in-cheek tale. The top track for me is ‘Those Days Again’ perhaps because its lyrics struck so close to home. And finally, coming from somewhere left-field with a passing Noel Coward take-off, there’s ‘Travelling in India’ - as I said: “… a mélange of music.”
The breadth of this album makes it tempting to review every song because each stands alone as an expression of itself. It’s easier to say be prepared to go with the step-changes as song-by-song this album weaves its idiosyncratic thread. Did I enjoy it? Yes I did and I would hazard a guess that you will too.
Playing on selected tracks alongside Martin Stirrup on ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ are Jon Garvey (sax) Mary Davies (piano) Roger Brawn (guitar) and Steve Franks (backing vocals, guitar).
Reviewer: Charlie Elland