Cherry Red 2014
As “common sense defaces taste,” veteran singer-songwriter looks up to the sky.
Acute observations has always been Trevor Midgley’s forte, both in the early ’70s, when he logged a brace of albums for John Peel’s Dandelion label, and 2011’s "The Way It Was" that marked his return, but the older the artist known as Beau gets the less he speaks in tongues and the harder his straightforwardness hits. Looks like a string of archival releases ended the veteran’s slight preoccupation with the ancient past, and for the most part this record deals with nowadays affairs. Such a paradigm shift is palpable in the title track which finds fluttering hope in quite an apocalyptic vision, Midgley warbling angelically to the strum of his 12-string that carries the listener to the tired finale of “Wings” – yet it’s not an easy ride up there.
Always an erudite, Trevor strews his songs with historical, philosophical and literary references that enrich the depth of it all without eating away at the beauty of it. So the Gothic brilliance of “Lenin” joins “Lady D’Arbanville” in its fascination with death, although in the case of the late Russian leader this pull feels deadly as well. Hence many questions being asked across the album and, in “A Curious Man,” warmly welcomed, yet for all the puns which render social critique more acidic – Russian oligarchs in “Soldiers Of Fortune” are surely ridden with “gilt” as opposed to “guilt” – the thinning of a folk thread this time around somehow uproots Midgley’s stance. Thus, the carol of “Death Of An Old Year” sounds more like a high-life waltz, but then, Beau taps into the life-affirming source of “Fog On The Tyne” to channel it through “All The Way Down The Line” with its merry anti-communal sentiment.
Still, the fog is pierced by a tragedy in “The Hum Of The Cable” after the soft drift gets gloomily serious in “Rooks And Ravens” which slings its chiseled rhymes inside the Guantanamo walls, and in “When Gabriel Turns” that poeticizes a fading memory rather than gives in to an advanced age. That’s the “words of sympathetic pride” echoing from the march of “So Far Away” and from “Singapore” where the imperialistic narrative takes an unexpected turn, albeit it holds no enigma – unlike “That Silver Door” where a TV anchor has to face the fear he creates for all, and thank God Trevor is there to cast a glance behind the scenes. Or to hand one a mirror in “Saving Grace” to find the worst enemy in there, kiss the sky and be free as bird. Ask away and soar higher: Beau’s here for you.