A fine starting point to explore a songbook brimming with warmth.
Sid Smith 2009-04-21
It's been a few years since Clive Gregson swapped the streets of Manchester for the sun-drenched boulevards of Nashville but it's a move that clearly agrees with him.
From his days with the Stiff label's 80s popsters, Any Trouble, Gregson has grown in stature as a classy songwriter, swapping the Elvis Costello-centric sounds of his youth for something akin to a smooth Ry Cooder.
Not your straightforward greatest hits package, Gregson often inserts a demo of a song rather than the original version and in doing so, illustrates how he hones his material.
There's a smile-inducing nerdiness to Gregson's annotations for each song. He's likely to tell you more about the tape recorder he used to demo I Love This Town - a Tascam 488 multi-track cassette machine since you ask - as he does about the fact that Nanci Griffith covered it to great acclaim.
The exquisite Cornerstone may be built around an uncomplicated arpeggiated figure yet its impact is complex and nuanced thanks to Gregson's sure-handed grasp in keeping things simple and true.
Perhaps this is why singers from the great and good - Norma Waterson, Kim Carnes and venerable UK folk institution, Fairport Convention to name but a few - to even the lowliest of street buskers and folk club hopefuls are able to inhabit his songs and call them their own.
Long-term fans will enjoy the alternate takes whilst newcomers will find this a fine starting point to explore a songbook brimming with warmth.