Tag Archives: gladdie

122. AMY GODDARD’s new charity single “Remembering Aberfan” (2016). A pre-release review.

(Pic: Amy Goddard)

(Pic: Amy Goddard)

I was only six years old when the Aberfan disaster occurred on 21st October 1966; but even at that tender age, I remember being horrified by the news footage – it probably stuck in my mind because of the shock displayed by my parents. For those who don’t know about it, it was when a slag-heap collapsed on the junior school in the Welsh mining village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. 116 children, and 28 adults lost their lives. Those children were of a similar age to myself. (Read more about it here)

Singer/song-writer Amy Goddard grew up in the neighbouring village, and although she wasn’t born then, would have been well aware of the disaster from an early age. Now, approaching the half century mark since the catastrophe, she has written and recorded a new single entitled ‘Remembering Aberfan’; with all proceeds to go to the Aberfan Memorial Charity.

How like Amy to be brave enough to tackle such a dark and tragic subject – and how like her to have bettered that self-imposed challenge. How like Amy to donate her time and effort for the sake of charity – and how like her to write a song that is as wonderful as it is sad. It is a simple enough song in construction – yet delivered in Amy’s inimitable way; with haunting arpeggios, her trade-mark moving lyrics and emotionally charged vocal melody. There are some well arranged backing vocals too.

There are two versions of the song on the CD. It comes in a simple but smart, well-thought out sleeve (again typical of Amy). There is plenty of info and the lyric printed inside. The song will be released on 3rd October – just before the 50th anniversary of the disaster. You can listen to the song now though, on Soundcloud. CD copies are available from Amy’s website. PTMQ

I have written several reviews of Amy’s work…

#79 Review of Amy’s debut album Burn & Glow (2014)

#86. Double A-Side singles ‘Near The Sea’ / ‘Alright Again’ (2016)

#94. Review of her album Secret Garden (2016)

112. LASTING PERCEPTIONS OF THE GREAT WAR DISCUSSED IN FOUR RECENT SONGS: By Larry Miller; Amy Goddard; Reg Meuross, and Del Bromham.

Introduction  We are currently living through the one-hundredth anniversaries of the battles of the Great War (1914-18). A century ago, Battles such as Mons and Loos had finished in stale-mate, leaving thousands dead in their wake; and the horrors of The Somme were in full flight. Passchendaele, and The Kaiserschlacht were yet to happen, and so the killing continued. Those names still send a shudder down the spine of many of us living in the 21st Century – in spite of the fact that very few people alive today are actually old enough to remember the conflict – and no one alive who actually fought in it.

Yet still it lives on in our cultural memory; and many of us have family stories handed down about the living Hell of the Great War. My own family were fairly typical in that we provided four young men for the British Army – Len was killed in action on the Somme (and I am writing this article now in commemoration of his sacrifice in July 1916); his brother Frank was wounded; Jim was captured (but escaped); and my Grandfather Albert came through unscathed (at least physically). Jim and Albert were musicians – the former played banjo and sax in at least two early Jazz bands after the war (See the photo above; and my article #8); and my Grandad Albert was an accomplished amateur violinist with musical interests that ranged from the Classical to the popular. (Look out for an article about his violin and a Waltz that he wrote, on this website at some time in the future).

Many musicians fought in the war of course. Many bandsmen acted as medics and stretcher-bearers even if they were not directly involved in the fighting. In the days before multi-media entertainment, many young soldiers were adept at some form of musical instrument or other, and would entertain their mates to raise their spirits or just to relieve the boredom.

Given that The Great War is still a lurking spectre in the national psyche, it is not then surprising to find that it still inspires the writing of songs to this day – as every new generation has its take of the conflict. There is apparently still plenty to say about it from many points of view. I have chosen just four very moving songs that illustrate modern perceptions of three very different aspects of the Great War – yet all are aspects with which we can sympathise. They are all based on true stories.

Larry Miller 'Soldier Of The Line' album cover

Larry Miller ‘Soldier Of The Line’ (2014) album cover

Larry Miller: ‘Soldier Of The Line’:  My first example is by this remarkable Blues-Rock guitarist; and is the title track from his excellent album – arguably his best – Soldier Of The Line (2014). The song is a world away from his usual Blues-Rock repertoire. I have described it before as being a kind of ‘Progressive-Folk lament’. It is skillfully played on acoustic guitar in DADGAD tuning; and has a very hauntingly appropriate melancholic vibe about it. The album version is also enhanced by a sympathetic cello. (For my interview with Larry and a review of a gig he played in Essex, last year, see my article #61).

Larry’s song is based on the experiences of his Grandfather and Grand Uncle – brothers and musicians who – like millions of others – served at the sharp end in the Great War. It is written from the point of view of a Tommy actually serving in the trenches at the Front. Within the lyric, Larry skillfully explores the things that would be going through the mind of the young soldier, far from home and loved ones; asking himself what he is doing there (yet resolutely determined to do his duty nonetheless); and eager for letters from home – and desperately hoping that his lady-love is still waiting for his return. It is a poignant song which Larry has thoughtfully crafted both musically and lyrically.

Unfortunately, soon after I interviewed Larry last year, he suffered a stroke; but I’ve heard from his Bassist Derek White, that he is slowly recovering and has played a little guitar lately. I’m sure all of his fans and all of my readers will join me in wishing him a speedy return to full health. He also told me during the interview, that he was working on a new double album – something of a magnum opus from the way he described it to me – so let’s all hope and pray that he is able to complete it soon.

Here is a video of Larry performing ‘Soldier Of The Line’ (With thanks to Sarah Reeve)

Amy Goddard: 'Gladdie' single cover.

Amy Goddard: ‘Gladdie’ (2015) single cover.

Amy Goddard: ‘Gladdie’:   My second example is a song that was deservedly a semi-finalist at the 2015 Song-Writer Awards; and features on Amy’s wonderful second album, Secret Garden. (See my album review #94).  It was also available as a single (See my review #79).

The song looks at the war from the perspective of one of those loved ones left behind to ‘keep the home fires burning’. In this case the protagonist Gladdie (Amy’s Great Grand Mother) is missing her sweetheart who is away at the Front. It is a beautifully tragic song of three verses and three choruses. In the first verse Gladdie is remembering her dates ‘walking out’ with her beau before he is sent to the Front. In the second they correspond by letter; and she is frustrated by the lack of information. Of course, in the final tragic verse, she receives the news that her beloved has unfortunately died. How many such stories – sadly mostly now long forgotten – could once have been told about the Great War? They say that every family endured the loss of a loved one during the conflict, so this song serves to remember them all.

Amy has crafted a wonderful song in ‘Gladdie’. Her skillful guitar work (in Open-C tuning) coupled with her emotional – almost ethereal – vocal make this a haunting and poignant song that I know has reduced listeners to tears. The album version also features a sympathetic violin too, which enhances the sadness within the song.

Here is Amy’s official video of ‘Gladdie’

Reg Meuross: 'Dragonfly' (2008) album cover.

Reg Meuross: ‘Dragonfly’ (2008) album cover.

Reg Meuross: ‘And Jesus Wept’:   I first heard this remarkable song covered by Nigel Dee of The Acoustic Warehouse, Kingsteighton, Devon (See my review #29); and  I am told that Reg has played at the venue himself). From this cover, I was inspired to investigate the original. It appears on Reg’s Dragonfly album of 2008, but I first heard it only a couple of years ago – and I’m very glad that I did.

The song deals with an aspect of the war that has at last received widespread recognition: the unjust execution of young soldiers for ‘Cowardice’. Reg was moved to write the song after reading of the plight of Private Harry Farr; executed by firing squad in 1916. This is one of the brutal travesties of the Great War that only comparatively recently has been given voice in the national conscience – that is, the ignorance of the Top Brass to accept, understand, and deal with the phenomenon of ‘Shell-Shock’ (which is now far better understood; and these days described as Combat Fatigue). Pte. Farr was posthumously pardoned in 2006.

Reg plays this haunting song on acoustic guitar in Drop-D Tuning. Again, a beautifully sad song entirely appropriate for the subject matter; and it is thoughtfully written (as is typical of Reg’s work).

Here is a video of Reg performing ‘And Jesus Wept’ from the Songs From The Shed Sessions 

(Pic: Stray)

Stray’s Valhalla (2010) album cover

Del Bromham: ‘Harry Farr’:  The same subject has also inspired the writing of ‘Harry Farr’ by Del Bromham of London-based heavy rock band Stray (of which Del is the only surviving member from the original group of the late ’60s). It appears on their album Valhalla (2010); and couldn’t be more different to Reg’s take on the subject; for whereas Reg emphasises the sad tragedy of Harry’s unjust execution, Del’s contains that sadness plus large portions of darkness and anger too.

Del’s interest in Harry’s story is far more personal than Reg’s too, in that Del’s Grandfather was actually diagnosed with ‘shell-shock’, after being injured at the Battle of Ypres, and spent his whole life after that in a mental hospital until he passed away in 1969. It was whilst watching a TV programme on Harry Farr and others who were executed, that it struck Del that his Grandfather too could have been condemned if he’d been sent back to the Front after being wounded at Ypres. ‘The song just had to come out’ Del told me ‘I remember the song was written very quickly, almost like an invisible hand was assisting me writing the lyrics.’ Its clear too that Del has done his homework on the historical facts of the case.

This song by Del has been described by other writers as ‘recalling Iron Maiden’ in essence; and that is fair comment (although Maiden have cited Stray as an early influence on their music), yet to me it primarily has the feel of a typical Stray/Bromham number (especially in the rhythm guitar part) – yet not merely a rehash of their earlier work. Its a great rocker that is popular in the band’s live set, and has an important message to impart – ie, making us aware of the plight of not just Harry Farr, but of the 300 or so other poor souls who were executed for ‘cowardice’ during the Great War. Del has always been known for writing deeper stuff than your average rock musician at times, that’s for sure.

Here is the video of Del Bromham’s Stray’s ‘Harry Farr

For more information about Harry Farr, here is a link to the Wikipedia page

It is a century or so since the events that inspired these four songs have passed; yet still they live on – and so they should, as I think it is important to remember that hideous conflict of 1914-18. Each is a very personal tale; yet can be seen as representative of many millions of similar true stories which are probably mostly forgotten by their families; so I applaud these writers for keeping the memories alive, each in their own way. There are no doubt other songs on the subject of the Great War (and it is a subject that interests me greatly), so if any of my readers would like to suggest others, I’d be pleased to hear about them. Finally, I’d like to thank all four of these remarkably talented and thoughtful song-writers for keeping these diverse and important aspects of the Great War alive through their wonderfully moving music and lyrics. They prove that although the war is long over, its dark shadow still haunts us to this day – and still inspires great songs. Long may that be the case. PTMQ

 

94. AMY GODDARD “Secret Garden” (2016). A pre-release review

'Secret Garden' (Pic: Amy G)

‘Secret Garden’ (Pic: Amy G)

My regular readers will no doubt already be aware of the name of the remarkable young singer / song-writer Amy Goddard; because I have already reviewed her highly acclaimed debut album Burn & Glow (See my review #79); and her wonderful singles ‘Gladdie’ (#79); and the double A-side ‘Near The Sea’ / ‘Alright Again’ (#86). All three songs are featured on her new album Secret Garden; so when she sent me a pre-release CD copy of it for review, I was very keen to hear it.

The album consists of fourteen songs – eleven of Amy’s originals; two covers and a musical interpretation of a classic poem. She sings lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar and bass; and she is ably assisted by a handful of other very good musicians / vocalists where necessary.  Its a fine collection. It is unmistakably ‘Amy’ in its overall sound and style; yet it remains fresh and interesting too. She is a lady with something to say – both lyrically and musically. And she has the skills to weave her creative thoughts into a tapestry of sound, using her voice and guitar.

On all of Amy’s songs the lyrics; vocal harmony arrangements; and musicianship are very impressive indeed. To be honest, I could write a favourable paragraph about each of these songs; but I’ll just say a little about a few that in my opinion are the highlights among them – no easy task considering the high quality of the whole collection.

The opening arpeggios of ‘Words Of Sweet Music’ set the bar high right from the start. Upon the first listen, it reminded me a little of ‘Time Was’ by Wishbone Ash (or at least the folky intro to it). It is a lovely relaxing song about the catharsis that music can provide in times of personal crises. There is a beautiful acoustic guitar solo that for me, fully enhances the song. Very satisfying.

Another favourite of mine is the title track ‘Secret Garden’. Perhaps we all need such a clandestine refuge for a little peace and quiet – if not physically, then psychologically. And if we should ever find ourselves in such a place, with Amy’s guitar playing and ethereal vocals providing the sound-track; then we would surely be half way to Paradise! This song is beautiful, peaceful and relaxing; with well-thought out vocal harmonies and backing vocals.

I also particularly like Amy’s musical interpretation of ‘The Highwayman’ – a poem by Alfred Noyes from 1906, and set in the 18th Century. The haunting vocal melody, along with the sympathetic and subtle use of Hammered Dulcimer and Whistle, really make this song unique, and a joy to hear.

The beautifully sad ‘Gladdie’ is an exceptional song that should be mentioned too. Yet I shan’t dwell on it here. Instead, I refer the reader to my earlier remarks on it (see my review #79).

The CD comes in a standard Jewel Case, along with an impressive deluxe 16-page booklet detailing credits and thanks, plus lyrics; and (something I particularly like which is sometimes lacking in CD booklets), a paragraph or two detailing the inspiration behind each song. The booklet design and some of the artwork is Amy’s doing too. I particularly like the tree-tunnel with stepping stones leading to….who knows where? Its as impressive as a ’70s concept album cover!

All in all, its another big recommendation from The Quill! The album is already available for pre-order from Amy’s website; and will be released on 18th April. She will be performing the new songs at two album launch gigs – one near her hometown of Portsmouth; and one in her native South Wales. Amy is also a music teacher and a luthier; so I wish her every success that her multiple talents deserve. PTMQ

Here is a link to Amy’s website… http://www.amygoddardmusic.co.uk/

86. AMY GODDARD. New double A-side single: “Near The Sea” / “Alright Again” (2016)

(Pic: Amy Goddard)

(Pic: Amy Goddard)

I was pleasantly surprised when a jiffy bag arrived unexpectedly at my home just after Christmas, containing the latest pre-release CD single from the remarkably talented singer/song-writer Amy Goddard. I recently reviewed her debut album Burn & Glow; along with a few words about her beautiful previous single “Gladdie”. (See my review #79). Both “Gladdie” and these two new songs are taken from her forthcoming second album Secret Garden, which is to be released in April this year.

In the mean time, the two songs on this new double A-side single are very good indeed. Although they are both very different, they are both typically ‘Amy’ in song-writing style and performance. But that is not to say that they are a mere rehash of her earlier work. Far from it; as both – although somehow sounding comfortably familiar – are still proving that Amy has fresh musical and lyrical ideas to offer.

“Near The Sea” was mostly written on the North Cornish coast – a favourite place of Amy’s. It is a finely crafted song, with superb acoustic guitar; and a beautiful lyric about the calming effect of the sea, which ‘…helps put my worries into perspective’, she says. Although it won’t bring you to tears like “Gladdie”, it is nonetheless a very lovely song. And it is enhanced by excellent, sympathetic violin, thanks to Amy’s former school teacher, Naomi Hitchings (who also played so well on “Gladdie”).

“Alright Again” is an optimistic and chirpy number about how much better things look after a good night’s sleep! I could do with one of those now and again; so I can sympathise!  In this song, her worries (represented by the ‘Black Dog’ / ‘The Beast’), are banished by the coming of morning light – and hence the title. The Telecaster and bass guitar are played very well by Jonathan Lewis, who apparently plays on some other tracks on the new album; and will join Amy for her album launch gigs in April (see her website for details).

If these two songs (and “Gladdie”) are typical of the quality of the new album, then Amy’s fans are in for a treat indeed; and I look forward to hearing and reviewing it as soon as possible. It is already available for pre-order through Amy’s website….

http://www.amygoddardmusic.co.uk/

PTMQ

79. AMY GODDARD “Burn & Glow” (2014); and a few words about her new single “Gladdie”.

Glow & Burn (Pic: Amy G)

Burn & Glow (Pic: Amy G)

It was our mutual friend Paw, who first put me on to the music of singer-songwriter Amy Goddard; by recommending her single ‘Gladdie’. (On which more later). Amy herself then sent me a package containing her debut album Burn & Glow (2014); along with the recently released ‘Gladdie’ single; and her biography factsheet with some leaflets.

Amy is a young singer/song-writer originally from Merthyr in South Wales, but now resident in Portsmouth. She is also a music theory; guitar; and piano teacher – and a luthier too! With such skills, you would expect her to come up with a remarkable album – and you’d not be disappointed!

Burn & Glow is a collection of fourteen songs, mostly penned by the lady herself; and characterised by very good song construction and arrangements; and by Amy’s almost other-worldly vocals and harmonies. But for me, what stands out most of all are her powerful and beautiful lyrics. She is not afraid to delve into some very dark places indeed. Full marks to her for having the courage to shine light on such dreadful issues as: depression in ‘Don’t Try’ (her previous single for which all proceeds went to the charity SANE); bullying, in ‘Suzie’; and the possible slide into alcoholism, in ‘Taking The Edge Off The Day’. The lyric to each of these songs is powerfully poignant, and cuts to bone of the issue.

That’s not to say that the album is all doom and gloom. Far from it! There are several wonderful cheery songs too – from the chirpy Americana of ‘Morning Train’; through the lilting ‘Just Be You’ with its lovely acoustic solo section; and of course to the singalong ‘One More Song’. But my personal favourite is the beautiful opener ‘I will See’. It is, as Amy tells us  ‘… a song about learning to be happy in your own skin’. I love the guitar on this; the lyric is superb too.  I also like ‘Make You Whole’; which is about the joy of playing a musical instrument. There are two equally good versions of this song on the album. But I must say, that every track in this collection is quite remarkable.

The CD comes in a standard Jewel Case. Multi-skilled Amy has of course, also designed the lovely cover herself. In the enclosed booklet, she has provided all lyrics and an explanation of each song; and some other generally useful info too. All round, its a very fine job indeed.

The 'Gladdie' single cover (Pic: Amy Goddard)

The ‘Gladdie’ single cover (Pic: Amy Goddard)

Amy also sent me her ‘Gladdie’ CD. It is the recently released single that will feature on her forthcoming album. It is also deservedly a semi-finalist in the UK Song-Writing Competition. It is based on the letters received by her Great Grandmother Gladys, from her beau who served in the trenches during the Great War – from which he never returned. The song is beautiful, but tragic; sad, but magnificent. How many similar stories – now, mostly forgotten – could have been told from that hideous conflict of a century ago? ‘Gladdie’ represents all such forgotten stories. Amy is to be highly commended for airing the subject, as we currently live through the 100th anniversaries of battles, whose names still resound like a death knell through the decades; appropriate too as we approach Remembrance Day 2015.

‘Gladdie’ is a well-crafted song with a powerful lyric in three verses and three choruses. Amy’s voice is wonderfully emotional, and her guitar playing is superb. There are also some wonderfully arranged strings too.  And it’ll bring a tear to your eye!

The CD single comes in a simple, but adequate slip case, with a very appropriate and thoughtful design and some basic info on the song. I assume lyrics will be provided when the new album is released.

Thanks to Amy for writing and recording such wonderful music; and to Paw for pointing me in Amy’s direction. I recommend highly both Burn & Glow, and the ‘Gladdie’ single. I eagerly look forward to her new album. PTMQ.

Here is the official video for ‘Gladdie’ (Handkerchiefs at the ready!)…

Amy’s website… http://www.amygoddardmusic.co.uk/