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Reg Meuross - St. Pancras Old Church, London (28th July, 2017)

FARAWAY PEOPLE - ALBUM LAUNCH

  • Line-Up: Reg Meuross
  • Location: St. Pancras Old Church, London
  • Date: 28th July, 2017
  • Website: http://www.regmeuross.com/
  • Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)

The launch of 'Faraway People' marked the second in a trilogy of solo albums from Somerset based singer-songwriter Reg Meuross.  Simply put it is Reg's music at its most pure and intimate. The historic St. Pancras Old Church in London provided the perfect setting for a night with one of England's master musical storytellers.

The new 'Faraway People' album is a strong insightful comment on life in an ever changing and uncertain world. Lessons to be learnt from the past are also explored, echoing warnings that resonate through time and are still relevant today. Among the protest and acute observations though are moments of beauty, love and good humour. With just an acoustic guitar, banjo, dulcimer, mouth organ and Reg's vocals, we were taken on a perceptive and personal journey of discovery. We were also treated to a two sets featuring songs from the new album, unreleased songs and some classics from Reg's back catalogue.

After Reg's nightmare seven hour car journey from his home in the West Country, it seemed very apt that the first song of the set was the unreleased banjo and mouth organ led 'Songs About A Train', which echoed classic Bob Dylan. Maybe this could be the preferred means of transport next time.

Inspired by the Bob Dylan song 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol' and continuing some of its themes of murder, racism and lack of justice. Reg's 'Lonesome Death Of Michael Brown' is based on the true story of a 18 year old black man killed by a white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. He was shot after Michael Brown reportedly robbed a convenience store. The initially disputed circumstances of the shooting sparked existing tensions in the predominantly black city, where protests and civil unrest erupted. A St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson and he was exonerated of criminal wrongdoing by the United States Department of Justice.

One of my personal favourites from the new album is the very topical 'Angel In A Blue Dress' exploring the power of music and the current issues within the NHS caused by failing government policy over many years. This is a deeply personal personal account of a hard-working nurse, who listens to music to help her get through the day. Reg described the piecemeal selling off of our health system back in 2015 in his acclaimed song 'England Green & England Grey'

It is always very interesting to learn about the inspirations for songs and Reg's next one the unreleased 'World Being The World' is based on a quote by Ian McShane's character Albert "Swejen" Swearengen, the proprietor of the Gem Saloon in the US TV series 'Deadwood'

In 'Leavin' Alabama' Reg imagines a meeting between two of his heroes Dylan Thomas and Hank Williams. who died within one year of each other in 1952/3.

With it's gentle finger picked acoustic guitar 'For Sophie (This Beautiful Day)' is the moving account about Sophie Scholl an anti-Nazi activist in WW2, who was part of the 'White Rose Movement'. She was convicted of high treason and executed after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans. Following her death, a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany to the UK, where it was used by the Allied Forces. In mid-1943, they dropped over Germany millions of copies of the tract.

The finish the first set was a wonderful story and song from Reg's life on the road with Hank Wangford on his 'No Hall Too Small' UK Tour. It was a great example of Reg's sharp observational qualities. Delightful titled 'Phil Ochs & Elvis Eating Lunch in Morrissons Café' it was a sage tale of mistaken identify and eating lunch in a UK supermarket cafe.

The second half started with another 'Faraway People' album track the gentle and tender love song 'In Your Arms'.  The very topical 'Refugee' explored the current personal plight of refugees fleeing hardships and war in their own country and trying to seek refuge and a safe life with their families. For 'A Quiet Night' another unreleased track Reg turned to his trusty Appalachian dulcimer. It was graceful, delicate and tender.

Reg's next subject is 'Cicero' an influential Roman philosopher, political activist, politician & lawyer, who served as consul in 63 BC. Marcus Tullius Cicero came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order and is considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists. Many of the points about society Cicero wrote about still applies today, almost two thousand years later.

Complimented by SPOC's 10pm chimes, I really loved 'In Dreams'. With it chord structure and melody it had the feel of a softer REM track. When Reg first heard about New Brighton he had a romantic idea about a place like New York's Coney Island, so he wrote a song about one of it's residents the 'New Brighton Girl'. Reg said that he has since visited New Brighton and unfortunately it wasn't like he imagined it be in the song.

The final song of the set was the album's powerful. personal and through-provoking title track 'Faraway People' dealing with the many issues and deaths in the UK due to the current government austerity policies and cuts, which adversely affect the lives of so many people. All individual stories of 'faraway' people with only limited and distant voices. One of the very powerful echoing lines of the song is 'You will be unfit to work when you're dead!'

Returning for a well deserved encore the final song of the evening was a classic, the very catchy 'Man In The Moon' from Reg's 'Short Stories' album.

It was a super evening in the company of one of the UK finest singer-songwriters. 'Faraway People' is topical, thought-provoking and insightful. It's a album which will undoubtedly be another classic in Reg's already outstanding collection.

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