Celebrated songsmith and guitarist Steve Tilston once again taps into the zeitgeist with an intriguing new album. In Such Times, Steve uses his new self-designed Brook ‘Calder‘ guitar to skilfully showcase his superb musicianship and lyrical mastery.
From the opening bars of the beautiful ‘Daylight Rising’, it’s clear that Steve Tilston is an artist very much at the height of his powers, as he delivers from the heart these wonderful songs of authority and instrumental panache. Such Times was recorded during the first national lockdown and sees Steve take on the role of social commentator and storyteller, as he weaves his magic on a wide-range of subjects including homelessness, an early ramble on the moors, and the magical effect of music on children.
Remarkably, the release of Such Times coincides with the 50th anniversary of his debut album An Acoustic Confusion from 1971. Since then he has become one of the UK’s most celebrated songsmiths, widely recognised within the world of folk and contemporary music; the words, arrangements and subtle, quite superb guitar playing could be no one else.
Steve’s true life story of the “lost” letter sent to him from John Lennon in the early seventies, which wasn’t delivered until forty years later, was the inspiration for the 2015 film Danny Collins, starring Al Pacino who played the Steve Tilston character. This helped propel Steve and his wonderful back catalogue of self-penned songs into the public eye, and Such Times sees Steve’s song writing prowess continue to go from strength to strength.
With his timeless and incredibly well-crafted songs, Steve Tilston is that rare combination of singer, songwriter and guitarist who excels in all departments, and unlike many of his contemporaries, his work simply gets better and more relevant as time goes by. From his two wonderful instrumentals ‘12/8 Pull Off’ and ‘Four Corners’ to his reworking of the Antônio Carlos Jobim classic ‘Waters Of March’ and the dreamy ‘A Million Miles Away’ this is a seamless journey from start to finish, where the more you listen, the more there is to discover.
01 DAYLIGHT RISING - An early ramble on the moor and the song was there, waiting for me to stumble across it. Ultimately, it's a projection of optimism, imagining the passing of the darkest of shadows.
02 SATELLITES DECREE - The contrast between a climb along the hill tops, descending to Hebden Bridge via Lumb Falls (setting for Ted Hughes' poem Six Young Men) with a previous night's gig and homeward drive. The warp and weft of my life and both dear to me.
03 THIS IS LIVING WITH THE BLUES - A new look at an older song that should be self-explanatory.
04 IT’S A CRYING SHAME - A song about being young, homeless and with no apparent stake in society. Homelessness must be one of the hardest weights to bear and the inescapable fact that it's on the rise is shameful.
05 A MILLION MILES AWAY - Who knows where dreams will lead? I blame the banjo.
06 SUCH TIMES – “I can remember a landscape much fairer, where cheats and dissemblers were seen to fall. Now they guffaw and peddle their scruples, for ermine and roubles and sneer at us all.”
07 12/8 PULL OFF - A bluesy instrumental piece in 12/8 time with, you guessed it, multitudinous 'pull offs’.
08 DUST FROM MY HEELS - A different look at a song composed when I was a member of WAZ. When I originally wrote it, I was unaware of the country song lurking beneath the surface – there may be others.
09 WHERE YOUR MARK REMAINS - A song for those whose passing has left a mark. It is mostly in 5/4 time.
10 WATERS OF MARCH - One of my favourite songs from the pen of the great Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim. I have carried this song close to me for years and I love the places where it goes, lyrically, musically and visually.
11 THERE'S A MAN - Observations and eavesdropping on snippets of conversation in nooks, corners and drinking holes.
12 NOTHING TO SEE HERE – “Move along, move along, there's nothing to see here. Pardon me for having a bit of a long, hard look.”
13 FOUR CORNERS - An instrumental piece remembering a road-trip from Santa Fe to the Grand Canyon via Mesa Verde and Monument Valley.
14 MY MYSTERY TRAIN - My first obsession was with trains and they loomed large in my early years. Scotty Moore's guitar playing, as much as Elvis's singing, on their early Sun recording of Junior Parker's wonderful song ‘Mystery Train’, had all the ingredients to stop me dead in my tracks. That song has travelled full circle and I've hopped on board with this homage.
15 LITTLE FLAME - Watching the effect music has on small children is a wonderful affirmation of the continuity of something both essential and special. I also wanted to leave this selection of songs on an optimistic note.
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