On familar ground with Heath’s tour
Scarborough-based singersong-writer Heath Common’s new CD returns us to familiar ground: the instantly recognisable, talking-blues gravel voice; the recurring motifs of the past informing the present; the tour through disparate musical styles.
They are all still there from the previous collection, The Dream of Miss Dee.
Ironically, Encounters With Light is distinctly darker in tone than Miss Dee. Geographically we are located predominantly in the USA, instead of enjoying a balance of songs that feature the UK as much as America.
The sleeve notes are vestigial, so I can only assume that the person playing the atmospheric piano on track one, Icarus, is Chris Halliwell (aka The Thin Man). Icarus starts the catalogue of heroes, in this case Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon, that is to weave its way throughout the album.
Other tracks reference the recently departed Leroi Jones (d. 2014) and Candlestick Park, the San Francisco home of the 49ers until its demolition, also in 2014.
Musical styles range from Klezmer (Angeline Albertine), to rhumba (Lennon), to folk rock (Women of Lincoln). These are not pastiches. Each is an homage to the varied landscape of popular music. At oblique angles, there are references to John Philip Souza, Wink Martindale and ‘Hurricane’ Carter.
Where the references are overt – Lennon, Lenny Bruce,
Each piece is homage to landscape of popular music
Reflections on Francis, Ray the Cat – the songs are serious reflections on the significance of these individuals to us all.
These are allusive, well-crafted songs that repay repeated listening.
Every word is audible there are some fine contributions by musicians and backing vocalists.
Heath Common is clearly on a journey with signposts provided by individuals known to us all.