Alex Hodgson,
The Brig tae nae Where
(Greentrax, 2014)

Get past the dialect title (for non-Scots) and you are ready to enjoy an eclectic mix of old and mostly new tracks from a consummate writer and performer. This is Alex Hodgson's followup to Jeelie Jars & Coalie Backs, and by the way for us mere mortals the new CD title translates as "The Bridge to Nowhere."

A native of the wonderfully named town of Prestonpans, close to the melting pots of Scottish history, his songwriting digs deeply into that history old and relatively new.

While the delivery is very upbeat, the opening track "The Street o' Sorrows" recalls the Great Plague and its origins in Mary King's Close in Edinburgh. He stays in that "Athens of the North" with "Bonnie Meg," about the gun on Edinburgh Castle.

His recall of the not-so-distant past brings to life a bygone time with "The Guid Auld Trams" as he recounts the joys of the old tram transport. His pen picture draws us back to that sedate time and then shatters our dream with reminders of the modern "rapid transport" systems that replace them.

One fascinating aspect of the album is a song called "The Herring Round," which is presented in three separate and distinct tracks recalling the people and trade that once thrived on the "silver herring." He continues the nautical trend with the beautiful "Star o' the East," a wonderful story song recalling a sea tragedy of 1891, when the boat of the title was lost within sight of the harbour.

Nostalgia rules in a great way on "A Summer Tale" about what school holidays as they once were with "sandwiches with sand stuck on" eaten while wearing "plastic sandals." He then treats listeners to his inimitable renditions of songs by two stalwarts. We get Robert Burns' great "My Luv is Like a Red Red Rose" followed by Ewan McColl's classic "The Shoals of Herring."

Hodgson shows his ability to give both a run for their money as he sings of his hometown on the lyrical "The Toun o' Prestonpans" that gains greatly from the inclusion of a beautiful choir of young people.

Like all the Greentrax offerings the CD comes with a colourful and very informative booklet explaining the songs. It's a worthy addition to any collection.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

6 September 2014

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new