The now long running musical merger of McDermott’s 2 Hours, one of the forefathers of the whole Celtic-punk scene and their prodigy The Levellers has been joined by UK folk rock institution Oysterband on Nick Burbridge’s swansong for McDermott’s 2 Hours, Besieged.
If your not familiar with the work of singer, songwriter, playwright & poet Nick Burbridge, he is one of the finest Anglo-Irish songwriters and lyricists, a Beckett or Kavanagh to MacGowan’s Behan or even a Springsteen in his lyrical imaginary of the ordinary or downtrodden.
I’ve had a copy of Besieged since 2017, I listened continual to it though 2018 as I waited to be given the ok to review the advance copy. I can say it truly that Besieged is a great album, brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics and beautifully produced. An album that has passed the test of 12 months. The only question is Besieged the best album of 2017, 2018 or 2019?
Once regarded as prominent torchbearers of the alternative folk-rock movement along with the Pogues and Men They Couldn’t Hang (some even labeled them as punks), Oysterband have gradually settled into the role of venerable, thoughtful folkies. In fact, perhaps to their chagrin, Oysterband now more closely resembles artists like Fairport Convention and Richard & Linda Thompson than they might be willing to admit. On this, their umpteenth release, they are joined by longtime friend June Tabor (remember FREEDOM AND RAIN), Eliza Carthy and members of Show of Hands and Chicago alt-country group Handsome Family, among others. There is nothing particularly alternative here, instead, reliable British folk-rock in the classic mold; “John Barleycorn” is performed in the Fairport style and the a cappella “The New Jerusalem” sounds as if it belongs on any number of Steeleye Span albums. This album is so chock full of inspirational and moving songs that it begs the question, when will THE BIG SESSION, VOLUME 2 be released?