Another really outstanding piece of work by English guitar player and songwriter Martin Simpson. Martin must by now by creeping towards the veteran category. He has a fine body of work behind him and this offering is right up there with his finest.

Simpson is a native of Scunthorpe, now based I think in Sheffield. He has forged a career in the very top league of folk and traditional singers and guitar players. Alongside traditional music from these shores, a strong American influence has always been present in his work. Indeed he resided there for a number of years.

Martin plays an array of stringed instruments, banjola, 5 string banjo, bass, electric and resonator guitar and sings! He is joined by a number of Premier League players, Andy Cutting, Nancy Kerr, Ben Nicholls, and several other Simpsons. The album was recorded in Sheffield, with lovely warm rich sounds.

The deluxe edition contains the main ‘Rooted’ CD and a Bonus ‘Seeded’ CD, twenty tracks in total and beautifully packaged with detailed notes on source and inspiration for each song. It’s difficult to pick out strongest tracks probably because it’s impossible to pick out any weak ones. The quotes from his late father in law, (and wonderful singer) Roy Bailey, saying he chose songs about real people and real lives apply equally to Martin Simpson.

The range of song subjects is vast ranging from myths and legends on two continents to contemporary issues. ‘Neo’ is a reinterpretation of ‘Ragtime Millionaire’, now a Neo-Liberal Billionaire, which manages to keep both the style and political point of the original composition. ‘Hills of Shiloh’ is a Shel Silversteen original.  ‘Who’s going to Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot?’ learnt from the singing of Woody Guthrie and ‘Turnaround’ is inspired by & dedicated to Joni Mitchell.

I note a list of forthcoming English and Scottish live shows but nothing in Ireland. Martin Simpson has often played here so hopefully we will see him back before too long. In the meantime enjoy this highly recommended album.

Rooted is available now on Topic Records