Serious Sam Barrett “A Drop Of Morning Dew; Live At Bacca Pipes Folk Club”

Crow Lane Records, 2024

Double-live album from Yorkshire troubadour acts as an excellent summation of his career to date.

artwork for Serious Sam Barrett album "A Drop Of Morning Dew"A folk club has existed in the Yorkshire town of Keighley since the 60’s, adopting the name Bacca Pipes during the early seventies and now resides at the Riddlesden Institute, which throughout the last fifty years has played host to some of this country’s most iconic folk singers and musicians. It is therefore fitting that one of Yorkshire’s greatest modern cultural exports, Serious Sam Barrett, raised just a few miles north in the small dales village of Addingham, should choose the venue to record his latest release, the double-live album ‘A Drop Of Morning Dew’. Engineered by long-time collaborator James Atkinson and recorded on the 6th January last year, the resulting album sees Barrett deliver a set that brings together some of his best songs collated from his ten previous studio releases, and provides the perfect summary for the last twenty years of his musical journey.

Opening with the self-penned ‘Every Night Has An Ending’, that originally appeared on the much-lauded album from 2021 ‘The Seeds Of Love’, and sung here as it was then, a cappella, Barrett is clearly in good voice tapping into the energy emanating from his captive audience who are more than willing to offer their vocal support throughout the performance. Despite being renowned as a guitarist and banjo player, Barrett is also a strong vocalist more than confident in singing unaccompanied which he does to great effect later in the show, particularly on such tracks as ‘Liverpool Packet’ and ‘Was On An April’s Morning’.

The set list for this live recording comprises of eleven original numbers along with seven traditional songs, twelve of the tracks being culled from his last three studio albums, though two tracks, ‘Alf’s Song’, a song about Barrett’s Grandfather, and the fabulous ‘The Female Drummer’, both date back to his debut album ‘Close To Home’, that first saw the light of day back in 2009. Both tracks exemplify Barrett’s musical prowess on the 12-string guitar, his driving rhythmic arrangements underpinning the distinctive melody of each song finely soaked in the folk/blues idiom, that draws favourable comparison to both John Fahy and Dick Gaughen. In truth, he is no slouch on the banjo either, as he deftly demonstrates on ‘Bushes and Briars’, and ‘Where The White Roses Grow’, a song that recalls childhood memories and was the title track of his 2019 album.

Among the many highlights on the album, the title track, ‘A Drop Of The Morning Dew’, is a personal favourite. A new song inspired by one of the club regulars, Molly Binns, who informed Barrett that if he wanted to stay looking young he should go into the fields in the morning and rub the morning dew into his face. I have to say, as I look out of my kitchen window at the surrounding sodden landscape that betrays the recent continues rainfall, I feel such activity could result in a case of accidental drowning. Another song to stand out is ‘Holmfirth Anthem’, sung a cappella along with the congregation’s choral support delivered with all the patriotic passion you’d expect from the home of the white rose.

Barrett brings proceedings to a close with two self-penned numbers from either end of his recording career. Firstly ‘Darling Where You Are’, with its intricate guitar intro giving way to unaccompanied vocals informing us that love is not a place, before ‘Lullaby Of Leeds’, taken from his debut album is a fittingly apt song to close the album.

It is easy to understand the reasoning for releasing a live album, presenting these songs in an environment that they and Barrett feel most at home, whilst at the same time documenting his career to date. However, apart from the presence of a couple of new songs the remaining tracks are delivered very much as they first appeared on their relevant studio albums, and though it is accepted that the generous audience participation adds a certain warmth to almost every number, the arrangements themselves offer little if anything new. For that reason the album may not appeal as much to those already familiar with Barrett’s work and who have previously availed themselves to much of his back catalogue, for as enjoyable as the live setting is, the album is fundamentally a ‘Best Of’, in disguise. That said, for those that have yet to discover the genius of Serious Sam Barrett and his wonderful songs then ‘A Drop Of Morning Dew’, would be an excellent place to start, what I’m sure would become, a long and enduring relationship.

 

 

7/10
7/10

About Graeme Tait 110 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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