Tracklisting & notes:
1. Tyne Of Harrow (trad arr. T Ashworth)
I first heard this tune in Jon Boden's Folk Song A Day project back in 2010 and loved it straight away. Reading online comments about it, I was struck by how many people think of it as a song about a highwayman facing execution. To me, it's far more tragic than that - a working class guy who joins the army to get away from a situation at home, is poorly treated and ultimately turns to crime as he has no other way to support himself.
2. Lord Bateman (trad arr. T Ashworth)
Chris Wood recorded a gorgeous version of this on his first solo album, The Lark Descending, although the first time I encountered it was Jim Moray's odd time signature version on Sweet England. Both versions share that sense of eerie melancholy, despite the story having a happy ending. I was interested to read that the story might be about the father of Thomas A Becket, which in turn (as a lover of T S Eliot) reminded me how amazing Murder In The Cathedral is.
3. Everybody's Gone To The Rapture (T Ashworth)
Named after a computer game (which, incidentally, I didn't actually enjoy much). This is my exploration of how advances in technology take away people's livelihoods - it happened to weavers and miners, and it's happening again now thanks to 21st century AI and automation. The starting point for this was a left over verse from the song 'Sagrada' on Our Lost Infantry farewell EP 'Interregnum', although it evolved in a very different direction.
4. Crow On The Cradle (Sydney Carter arr. T Ashworth)
I was working as a technician at the arts centre in the town where I grew up when I first saw Show Of Hands play this song. Some of the lyrics are pretty on the nose - "your mother and father will sweat and they'll save/to buy you a coffin and dig you a grave" - but they work perfectly; the subject matter is worth tackling head on.