'Albion', with its string backing sounding like a heartbeat or the swing of a pendulum, is a quietly searing indictment of Thatcher's Britain, though I'm afraid that it's just as applicable today. It's the true story of Chris walking in the park with his son one day and finding a young lad who had hanged himself:
Sunday morning Me and my son Walk in the park Found a young man hanging from a tree His hands by his sides morning sun in his eyes
It reminds me a bit of 'Strange Fruit' by Billie Holiday, and not just because of the subject matter. Chris has his lighter moments, though. In 'Hard' ("She's hard my daughter's hard/She's only six but don't cross her/Watch out here she comes lock up your sons/(She takes right after her mother)") he paints a very affectionate portrait of his tough little daughter, and marvels at the somewhat random process that results in a whole new, different human.
The pair of tracks 'One in a Million' and the traditional song 'Lord Bateman' (the former features a Peggy Bateman) are superb. Both are really romantic love stories, and both (when I first listened to them on the train) actually made me cry. I'm an old softie, really.
I also really enjoyed the traditional Wassailing song 'Walk This World With Music'. It's one of those folk songs that is simultaneously celebratory and very bleak, with its placing of humans as temporary, fleeting creatures against the vastness of eternity. And yet, as the song says, our music passes through the generations and outlives our own lives:
This will go on though dynasties pass To mark and circumscribe our listless lives The staff of life in crumbs will fall But we will walk this world with music