Murrey and Blue: An Album Review
First of all, a disclaimer – I’m not a music critic, nor am I a musician. To my regret I don’t read music and while I can hold a tune, my voice is so thin and reedy most people would prefer that I didn’t bother. And yet I love music; along with books and theatre it is one of my greatest pleasures. So, apart from being a music fan, I have no credentials that make me especially qualified to review a new album. Ordinarily I wouldn’t dream of being so presumptuous as to publicly share my thoughts on a new musical work but this case, you see, is out of the ordinary. What makes it out of the ordinary is the fact that I happen to have a tenuous connection with the album in question and that, in my opinion, gives me ample justification for reviewing it. Preamble over, let’s start the review.
Murrey and Blue is the latest album from folk/rock outfit The Legendary Ten Seconds. Taking its name from the livery colours worn by the House of York (murrey is a deep purple-red), the album follows the well-established path of previous Legendary Ten recordings by focusing on the life of Richard III, the Wars of the Roses and fifteenth century life in general. Yet as this vibrant album demonstrates, there’s plenty of life left in their familiar concept.
Released on the first of November, the very date in 1461 on which the future King Richard lll was created Duke of Gloucester, the album contains 12 new songs as well as 3 remixed bonus tracks. Inspiration for the new material has been drawn from a variety of sources including historical works, medieval re-enactment groups and even a novel set in the Wars of the Roses. My novel, in fact; called Francis Cranley, the fifth track on the album was written by Ian Churchward after he read my debut novel, The Woodville Connection. It is a matter of no small pride to me that my fictional hero inspired such a wonderful song. Amongst a multitude of memorable tracks, for me this one really is the highlight although it goes without saying that I am massively biased. Even so, the story-telling in the lyrics, the haunting vocal performances and the subtle Christmas feel hinting at the season in which the novel is set, all combine to create a song which lingers in the mind long after it has finished.
While on the subject of Christmas, a more overtly festive number is The Boars Head, the first track on the album. Inspired by Toni Mount’s account of a medieval Christmas, it readily conjures the openhanded hospitality of a fifteenth century Yuletide celebration. Another gem is The Woodville Household, a jaunty, upbeat track which carries you along on a wave of hubristic buoyancy until the very last words bring you down to earth with a chilling reminder of the destiny that awaits the members of the Woodville household. There’s real poignancy there, as there is in another track, The Month of May, which tells of the uncertainty felt by a fictitious couple during the upheavals of 1483 through an exchange of letters. While London is rife with stench, confusion, doubt and dishonesty, the letter writers share their fears for where it all will end. Brilliant stuff.
The addition of remixes of White Surrey August 1485 and Court of Richard lll (both originally featured on Tant Le Desiree) offers a new take on old favourites while another bonus track, an exquisite version of The Month of May with Pippa West on lead vocals, provides a different slant on a song that must be destined to become one of the band’s most popular numbers.
Superb musicianship is in evidence throughout the album, as is a strong commitment to the fusion of medieval and contemporary music. Oh, and Francis Cranley is mentioned on the cover so from my point of view, that’s another big point in its favour!
A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the album will be donated to S.A.U.K., the charity that offers support to people with scoliosis.