It is always a pleasure to receive something in the post from Simon Gee.It used to be the excellent Wavelength magazine but on Friday morning it was the new CD from Global Sessions the new music label that Simon has set up which hit my door mat. The CD is the third album by Graham Robins and is called The Shipping News and I must say that after a depressing week of riots news and stock market news The Shipping News is a breath of fresh air.As soon as I heard the first track 'Back To The Heartland' I knew I was in the presence of something special. It features some wonderful flute and uillean pipe playing by John Devine. 'Walking In Silence' follows which is a very upbeat spiritually uplifting song with lots of religious imagery. A great song for Sunday mornings or any morning for that matter. 'Now All Of The Heartaches Gone' follows and and has a nice American sound with great pedal steel guitar by Cliff Weston and violin by Cliff Ward. I love it,I'd like to hear this music live at a festival. 'The great songs continue with 'Snow Blind'. When i first heard the opening notes on upright bass I thought of Under The Boardwalk by the Drifters. Graham excels himself on the harmonica on this track. The eponymous 'The Shipping News' is next and is a tour de force with Dave Baldwin playing some very atmospheric Hammond organ and piano. I love the name dropping of the great explorers such as Columbus and Vasco Da Gama and even Irish lady pirate Grace O'Malley. In complete contrast 'A Letter From Paris'has a very Jazzy feel and I love Olly Dowlins upright bass sound and Dave's piano. Paris has been a great inspiration to many great writers and artists and Graham has obviously soaked up the vibes as well. 'Drown In Your Eyes' is much more soulful and Graham is joined by Jade Rhiannon Ward on backing vocals.If some exponent of broken-hearted soul like Adele had recorded this song it would sell millions.It reminds me of I would Rather Go Blind by Etta James.On an album without one bad song I would say that song is possibly my favourite.
The mood changes completely with 'The Gangsters Of Rock n Roll which has a nice Tex Mex feel to it with the pedal steel guitar to the fore.I really like 'Roll Back The Years',Graham must be a similar age to me because it takes me back to Ready Steady Go,Radio Caroline,and even reminded me of buying Ben Sherman shirts in Harry Fentons shop. Grahams terrific harmonica playing opens 'The Comfort Zone' which is another powerful soulful song.I always thought the'The Heights Of Abraham' were in Canada but a friend of mine told me tonight that they are in Derbyshire in England's green and pleasant land with the hammond organ and John Devine's delicate flute playing accompanying Grahams soulful bluesy voice and some of these songs remind you of when Britain used to produce a wealth of great soul and Blues bands. 'Waiting On The Healing' brings the album to a close in magnificent style and the lyrics remind me very much of another great singer from these Isles who also took Blues,Soul,Jazz,Country and Irish and turned them into his own unique sound. In the absence of a new album from that singer I think this CD is the best thing out there.There isn't a bad track on the album,it is quite brilliant.This is an album to buy for someone you love and you won't go far wrong..