Martin Stephenson - Salutation Road (Music CD)

Release Date: 29 October 2012
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Martin Stephenson's English brand of folk/roots rock underwent a cultural translation of sorts on Salutation Road. For this album, he traveled to the U.S. to work with Los Angeles-based producer/guitarist Pete Anderson and engineer Dusty Wakeman. At this point, Anderson and Wakeman were best known for their involvement in the burgeoning Bakersfield sound of the 1980s -- especially their work with Dwight Yoakam. The pairing of the Geordie with these equally roots-minded Americans in the town south of Bakersfield, along with the participation of a stellar group of musicians from the Anderson-Wakeman circle, was a mouthwatering proposition. Stephenson's first two albums (Boat to Bolivia and Gladsome, Humour & Blue) had displayed a considerable stylistic range; that versatility is not diminished here. Working within his familiar folk-rock idiom, Stephenson incorporates simple acoustic fare ("Morning Time"), more jazzy numbers ("Heart of the City"), and even a smattering of Latin grooves ("Long Hard Road"). With its smooth beat and sunny horns, the latter is the standout track. Although the making of Salutation Road took Stephenson far from home, he didn't forsake his roots in the northeast of England. This is especially clear in thematic terms, as Stephenson pays homage to his Geordie origins on the title track with its joyous brass and on "Big North Lights," which is enhanced by the warm melody of Skip Edwards' Hammond. "Left Us to Burn" takes a more politicized look at the Northeast, denouncing the Thatcher government's betrayal of the region's coal miners in the 1980s. In comparison with his previous recordings, the expansive arrangements of Salutation Road offer a grander setting for Stephenson's talents as a singer/songwriter. Nevertheless, some might argue that his personality is somewhat obscured here and that this album lacks the simplicity of his best work to this point. ~ Wilson Neate
Release Date: 29 October 2012

1. Left Us To Burn
2. Endurance
3. Heal of the Night
4. Big North Lights
5. Long Hard Road
6. Spoke In the Wheel
7. Heart of the City
8. Too Much In Love
9. We Are Storm
10. Migrants
11. Morning Time
12. Salutation Road

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Catalogue No: BVCD025