Eddy MortonEddy Morton
Album: Rainbow Man
Label: New Mountain
Tracks: 11

Former founder of the Bushbury Mountain Daredevils( subsequently The Bushburys), Morton's been releasing solo albums for over a decade and, for the past 14 years, has run acclaimed live folk venue Katie Fitzgerald's in Stourbridge and is currently manager of rising star Sunjay Brayne, who guests on guitar on this, Morton's fifth release.

In the past I've likened him to Martyn Joseph, Dylan and McTell, and the comparisons are equally apt here on an album that marries politics (past and present) with more general reflections on life. Early Dylan's particularly in evidence on the albums opening fingerpicked title track, a rambling man style song in memory of close friend and music lover, Jeffrey Homer, written for his son and inspired by local studio engineer Mark Viner Stuart. Morton's local connection is at the heart of the trad-ballad styled The Battle For Stourbridge, Aiden O'Brien providing the uillean pipes on a song that recounts the story of the canal-based waterways rights of passage regulations and the 1962 fight by canal boat communities that brought a change in the inland waterways regulations.

Politics continue to resonate on In London Town, a folk blues coloured number about the haves and have nots that live in the capital and the absence of any common ground between them as well as the immigrant experience of those drawn there in hope of a better future. This is, in turn, followed by one of the album's highlights, This Is War In Any Other Name (on which he reminds me of Reg Meuross), a weary, harmonica-haunted battle-lines song about the power and greed of the pockets-lining capitalist elite where "Jerusalem become Paradise Lost".

As I say it's not all political commentary. Leaning on the melody for One Too Many Mornings, Emily is about being turned over by some girl who didn't give a flying duck about what she did to the singer, but ultimately gets her comeuppance for the sham marriage as he pays her back in full while, with spooked dobro (courtesy Trevor Spinks) and pipes, the stripped down, swamp-air, bluesy, raspy-voiced Lord You Ain't No Friend of Mine (which features percussion even if it's not credited) is another lament for a love that does no favours.

Again featuring O'Brien's pipes with Andy Jones on fiddle, the liltingly gentle When The Circus Comes To Town is a lovely Celtic-tinged storysong of travelling folk and dreams and the broken hearts left behind ("it's not the leaving or grieving, but the hope that she believed in") when they leave.

It's fair to say there's not too many uplifting moments here, though the piano accompanied When I'm Gone, seemingly a reflective meditation on mortality, complete with a Knopfleresque guitar solo, actually seems to be about the passing of the darkness of humanity's night darkness and a call to "rise up the morning, ignite the sun".

Rippling with acoustic guitar and aching fiddle, the Joseph-like Angels Never Cry strikes another note of hope that there must be more to a world that's "a house of pain" , although the mid tempo fingerpicked and accordion-accompanied On The Journey From The Schoolhouse is about the road travelled down the years and the way personal ambition makes you "stop believing what's yours is theirs is mine."

It's a sentiment that feeds into the album's seven minute and most musically muscular final track, an America-focused return to political themes with the Ghostland's warning note about the sacrifices made to the monster that is the quest for profit and fortunes built on oil and how "once we've built the future it's hard to recognise". The world could do with a few rainbow men. This seems a good place to start.

Mike Davies

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