Ralph McTell – Hill Of Beans
Format: CD – Digital / Label: Leola Records
Releasedatum: 20 september 2019

Tekst: Iain Patience

Ralph McTell is a true veteran, turning out delightful music and rewarding albums for over half-a-century, he is one the international music business’s genuine survivors. Known globally for his 1960s hit composition, ‘Streets of London,’ McTell is, however, much, much more than just that one towering track.

Still a perennial festival favourite, this year has seen the guy work blues festival gigs as far apart as Australia and his homeland, at Cambridge Folk Festival – a seriously important UK festival with a huge reputation for great musicians and music.

His first solo effort for some time, ‘Hill of Beans,’ is that rare thing – a simply excellent album. Eleven tracks covering countless bases from love to loss and a variety of human experiences, including ecological drifts and focus are all featured here. If anything, McTell is playing at the very top of his game these days, with his mellow, rich vocals, clever lyricism and at times extraordinarily virtuosic fretwork. Ever an acoustic master, McTell has never strayed too far from the music that first inspired him, traditional US acoustic country-blues.

With ‘Hill of Beans,’ he again serves up some wonderful picking. Just listen to the picking on one track, the traditional-sounding ‘Close Shave,’ and you can hear the intricacy and clarity of his picking-style at the fore. Other tracks such as, ‘Gammel Dansk,’ and ‘Gertrude & Alice,’ also feature his eye and ear for an historic heartfelt theme, as does ‘Brighton Belle,’ and others. On this offering, McTell has a significantly fuller, orchestrated sound at times, and the use of squeeze-boxes on a few tracks help set the theme with evocations of both time and place.

For those unsure or who have yet to discover the wonder of this guy, ‘Hill of Beans’ could well be a turning point, an album that highlights McTell’s quality and understated power as one of Europe’s foremost acoustic ragtime-blues pickers and a major global roots talent and lyricist.


Tracks:
01. Oxbow Lakes
02. Brighton Belle
03. Clear Water
04. Gertrude And Alice
05. Gammel Dansk
06. Shed Song
07. Close Shave
08. When They Were Young
09. Sometimes I Wish I Could Pray
10. Hill Of Beans
11. West 4th Street And Jones

Website: Ralph McTell