When an acclaimed poet with a long and respected publication record turns his hand to writing and performing his own songs, we might expect his lyrics to stand out from those of others in the ever-lengthening line of singer-songwriters. And on Trickery, Thieves & Luck, the second CD of original material by John Lindley, former Poet Laureate for Cheshire, they are certainly of a very high standard.
But, although a treat in themselves, these lyrics are supplemented by equally strong and varied musical performances. Lindley’s voice is convincing – both melodic and expressive – and his versatile backing band displays a high level of musicianship, employing acoustic, bass and electric guitar, ukulele, banjo, harmonica, keyboard, drums, mandolin, melodeon and violin. All in all, these ingredients add up to make this a superb collection of performances. Also of note is the excellent sound of this album thanks to John Miller’s wonderful production.
The 14 songs on this CD cover a range of topics, musical genres and styles. Lindley’s origins in the North West of England are in evidence on Ballad of the Viaduct, about the building of the huge Stockport viaduct in the 1840s, and Mercury, which details the poisonous effects of mercurous nitrate on the workers in that town’s hat-making factory. These two songs in particular draw on the finest tradition of folk songs championing the cause of history’s powerless and exploited.
Elsewhere in the collection, there are beautifully arranged and produced songs such as Deep Waters. This song looks at heroes such as Grace Darling and regrets that our contemporary leaders show none of the bravery and integrity of this young oarswoman and her like. And while this sounds – and is – a serious topic, while I listen, I find myself jigging about to the catchy melody. Lindley has previously produced a whole volume of poems about film and cinema and on Grindhouse he delivers a jaunty and affectionate tribute to the B movie and the flea pit. There are also tender love songs, an angry broadside against the US gun lobby, a dreamy take on the 1969 moon landing and much more.
All in all, this is an impressive and varied collection of songs on which lyricism and musicality both excel.
Go on, treat yourself or a friend to this CD. You won’t regret it!
Andy Miller, author and prizewinning poet.
(All profits from sales of this CD are being donated to charity. The CD can be obtained for £10 + £1.23pp by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with an address and he will give details about the various payment options.)