Sunday, October 25, 2009

Currently playing- Martin Simpson Prodigal Son

Martin Simpson is recognized as one of the finest finger style guitarists in the world. Simpson, whose roots are solidly in the British folk tradition, lived in the US for many years and draws deeply from traditional American blues and Americana roots and folk styles.

His 2007 CD Prodigal Son draws together all those influences into a fine collection, comprising self penned songs, traditional British and American songs, instrumental pieces and songs by other composers. Simpson is one of those highly skilled musicians who has his own unique style of playing and singing but he does that in a way that draws together an immensely wide set of styles and influences.

Prodigal Son is such an outstanding collection of music, played beautifully and with a fine supporting cast of musicians including Jackson Browne, English folk singer Kate Rusby and bassist Dannie Thompson.

When I listen to Simpson's playing I am reminded of his power of craftsmanship-taken from Richard Sennett's idea- that craftsmanship is the basic enduring human impulse to do a job well for its own sake. Craftsmanship focuses on the work, rather than ourselves or the rewards. Simpson is a musical craftsman, one of the finest.

This is a melancholic CD- 2 of the songs are written in memory of Simpson's parents- but also an uplifting and hopeful album . In his book The Craftsman Richard Sennett argues that the craftsman's way of working can provide people with an anchor amidst the struggles of daily reality. It is so with Martin Simpson's music.

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