Worryingly I'm old enough to remember the hey day of multiple format releases, 10", 12", CD, cassette, coloured vinyl, the choice seemed almost endless, but there always seemed something special about the double album, it was making a bold statement, "Look as us, don't we write a lot of great songs. We have so much material we really couldn't choose."
These days proper double albums are as rare as rocking horse shit. Sure there are plenty of double albums that serve as greatest hits packages, deluxe editions that have an extra disk thrown in, normally recorded live, but a new double album of new material, well you better have some pretty interesting pictures of the A&R executive and his secretary or run your label and take your courage in your hands, fortunately Red Shoes have the latter and "It Isn't Over Yet" really does back those convictions.
As luck, or lack of attention, would have it, the first CD to hit the player was the second one of the pair, the more acoustic one and I was immediately introduced to "Floorspot Annie", an artist that by different names and genders that can be found in almost any given folk club, the artist that is always the support, never the headline, talented enough to warrant a slot and popular with the locals. It's a brilliantly pitched song, many of you will know Annie and recognise their pivotal role, and with such a strong narrative drawing in the escapism that music provides.
It's a song that sets a really high standard for the rest of the album, one that I'm pleased to report Red Shoes, Mark & Carolyn Evans, hit every time. Actually that's not quite true, there is one track, "Martha's Song", which for me doesn't quite work. Inspired by Carolyn's book, "Martha: Trinity Of The Chosen" at two minutes, twenty three, it's the shortest song on the album and for me, is a little too short to do it justice. Interestingly, given the subject matter of the book, I think it would work really well if it was cut into Red Shoes interpretation of "Reynardine", the track that precedes it.
There is also a really great run of songs on the second disk that have a connection with boats and water that are delightfully populated with people and places with numerous shades of light and darkness littered throughout.
For me the darkest, well most tear jerking song is on the first, more electric disk, "Maple Tree Boy" one of the many heart wrenching tales of D-Day, telling the true story of Arthur Wallace and the unknown, teenaged Canadian soldier who died in his arms, an event that haunted him for his entire life.
Obviously, this is an album that's not all doom and gloom, there are some really bright moments, some, like the opener of disk one, "Salter's Screen" fuelled by fond recollection, in the case of that particular song, for an old cinema, the image of which adorns the album artwork.
Mark and Carolyn are joined by regular cohort Nigel King, percussionist Dave Mason, with guest appearances from Fairport's Dave Pegg and Ric Sanders, plus Joe Brown.
As I said at the start, bringing out a new double album these days is a real act of faith, well "It Isn't Over Yet" is well on its way to the promised land. A classic.
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