Shipcote, the man from the foggy Tyne with the sunshine soul, is back with a new album from “Shipcote and friends”. The friends are Jon Codd on double bass, Cath Reding on fiddle, accordion and piano, and Bryan Younger on guitar, banjo, dobro and lap steel; seasoned players all, these guys play their “gentle, Geordie, jazzy, swingy country” in impeccable style, creating a vibe that is sweet, joyful and immensely pleasurable.
With a lifetime in music behind him, Shipcote has only taken up recording his own songs in recent years, but it seems the muse is with him. All eleven songs on this new album are Shipcote originals and he finds his inspiration in the things closest at hand, the quirks and pleasures and sadnesses of everyday life. Whether it’s about a friend who has passed on, the realisation of getting old or the gentle pleasures of a Lazy Sunday, he brings to everything a sense that he loves life with deep and constant appreciation. In communicating that, and in having friends who make such lyrical, gently vibrant music, he makes us feel good about life, too.
Shipcote’s singing voice remains an understated thing but producer Paul Worthington has done an excellent job of allowing space for his quiet musing alongside the wonderful arrangements. The style changes from song to song – yep, there’s jazz, swing and plenty of sunshine in there – but the mood remains that of good friends enjoying the sheer pleasure of making music together. The last time I saw a band with such a capacity to put a smile on my face with music that I’d never heard before, it just happened to be Shipcote’s old bandmate Martin Stephenson with a bunch of mates at Belladrum Festival. I think those guys are very much moved by the same spirit and Shipcote has found a bunch of friends who are absolutely in tune with that. There really are moments on this album as purely joyful as anything I’ve ever heard. If you get hold of this album or make it to a Shipcote gig you might be lucky enough to get your hands on a bonus disc, Ready To Roll, with seven more songs recorded “as live” last winter.
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