THE LONG WAY HOME - SHOW OF HANDS
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 15th January, 2016
Genre: Folk, Acoustic, Roots and Rock
Band Members: Steve Knightley and Phil Beer
Location: Devon, UK
Record Label: Hands On Music
'The Long Way Home' is the seventeenth studio album from powerhouse and very popular Devon folk and roots duo Steve Knightly and Phil Beer, known collectively as Show of Hands. This special album is a return to their roots, a perfect showcase for one our favourite LCM duo's. We love the album, it has a real quality feel with amazing depth, excellent musicianship, rich vocal harmonies and very strong songwriting.
After their last two albums 'Centenary' and 'Wake The Union', Steve comments “it’s back to basics… traditional songs and lots of three-part harmonies”. Show of Hands have been around for a while now after first forming in 1986, this year marking their 30th anniversary. Steve and Phil having known each other since 1972. Steve and Phil are joined on the album by SoH regular Miranda Sykes (Double Bass/Vocals) as well as guest artists Ange Hardy (Vocals), Jackie Oates (Fiddle/Vocals), Phil Henry and Hannah Martin (Harmonica/Dobro/Fiddle), Chris Hoban (Accordion), Bridge Inn Shadyman (Vocals), Jack Knightly (Cajon) and Mark Tucker (Percussion design). The album was recorded at The Green Room, Upottery in 2015 and produced by Mark Tucker and Show Of Hands.
The album opens with the historic 'Breme Fell At Hastings' written by Steve Knightley. The song is inspired and written for the BBC Series 'The Great British Story' presented by Michael Woods who proposed that Breme, a freeborn farmer who fell at the Battle of Hastings, epitomizes both the subjugation of a nation and the loss of Saxon culture and identity. "In hearth and home and family, we had welcome fires to burn. But they'd burnt boats behind them, no hope of safe return. Now beaten down and broken, we are driven from our halls. And a foreign tongue is spoken now....within our Saxon walls'. Michael Woods himself provides the spoken Saxon intro and outro. Steve and Phil are also joined on the song by Miranda Sykes (Double Bass), Jack Knightly (Cajon) and Ange Hardy (Vocals).
'Hallows Eve' is written by Topbarn songwriter Chris Hoban who looked under the surface of the Americanised 'Trick or Treat' nightmare that Halloween has become. To find something more ancient, more darker....the joining of two worlds. Chris Hoban plays accordion on the very catchy track and SoH are also joined by the Bridge Inn Shadymen
'Hambledon Fair' is a haunting tradition melody and a lyrical amalgamation of lines from 'Rambleaway', 'Derry Down Fair' and Brimbledon Fair'. As a young man Steve would walk over Portsdown Hill to Hambledon. The song is also dedicated to young Elsie Gordon. We love the backing vocals on this one by Jackie Oates and Miranda Sykes.
The title track 'The Long Way Home' is an infectious love song about finding the right person, not taking the chance and losing touch. Then finding that person the second time around. As Sammy Cahn wrote 'Love is lovelier the second time around. Just as wonderful with both feet on the ground.'
Next up is a great modern and very catchy shanty 'Keep Hauling' written by Andrew Cadie of German based folk duo Broom Bezzums. SoH are joined once again by the Bridge Inn Shadymen in Topsham, who give the song the full rousing 'Fisherman's Friends' treatment.
'Twas On One April's Morning' is a traditional arrangement by Steve and Phil, from the singing of the late Tony Rose and collected just outside Exeter in 1906. Phil has known this traditional song for years. steve learned this version from Johnny Jones for their 'Patron's set' and Shrewsbury Festival. The tune is 'Isca Rose' written by Steve.
Showing their range, one of our favourites on the album is the very bluesy 'Sweet Bella'. We love the harmonica by Phil Henry weaving around the melody of Phil's mandolin and Steve's vocal.
'The Old Lych Way' is another song written by Chris Hoban. The Lych Way passes through many remote farms and hamlets on Dartmoor and the devout were expected to take their loved ones for burial in Lydford, no matter how arduous the journey. It has a great atmospheric feel and really reminds us of the music on Ange Hardy's 'Esteesee' album.
'Walk With me (When The Sun Goes Down)'. Irish Film maker Paul Tully is endeavouring to make a documentary film about the Sidmouth Folk Festival called 'A Small Quiet, English Town'. Steve wrote the song to assist his fund raising activities and it has now acquired a life of it's own. SoH are joined on the song by Phil Henry on dobro and Hannah Martin on fiddle.
A traditional song 'Virginia', the lesser known practice of convict transportation to the American colonies. Phil found the song and provided a new tune.
With another historical reference 'John Harrisons' Hands' is the story of watchmaker John Harrison and his quest to determine longitude is now well know. It was written by Dick Gaughan and Brian McNeil. The song not only celebrates Harrison’s remarkable achievement in perfecting a clock accurate and stable enough to allow calculation of longitude on board ship but also highlights his traditionally English crime of being from the wrong class to be given the credit.
'Mesopotamia' is a heartfelt story of love and loyalty. There are many songs in the folk tradition in which a young girl seeks to join her true love in cruel wars. Then, as now, fathers agonised over the paths their daughters were taking. Steve and Phil are joined on the final song by Jackie Oates and Ange Hardy.