MARTIN STEPHENSON AND JIM HORNSBY – Bumper Brown / Map In The World / Clear Run Over The Bridge

LAST WEEK SAW THE RELEASE OF A NEW ALBUM RECORDED DURING A STUDIO STOP-OFF ON MARTIN STEPHENSON AND JIM HORNSBY’S EARLY SUMMER JAUNT AROUND THE UK… AND ANOTHER. AND ANOTHER.

3560847Totalling 33 songs, a few of them fresh interpretations of old favourites from Stephenson’s days as frontman of The Daintees, but the vast majority drawn from an extensive two-decade solo discography, the trio of albums showcases a pair of players ‘on fire’ in each other’s company. Recorded ‘direct to tape’ over two-days in the North-East, and with no overdubs (or minimal ones, at least), each of the albums has an air of rough-and-ready spit-and-sawdust authenticity, adding to the idea of Stephenson and Hornsby as old-time troubadors ‘passing through’, with nearby tape-recorders lucky to capture a few footsteps of the journey.
MORNING TIME (a Daintees song from 1990 which, bizarrely, was recently used in Australia as the soundtrack for a TV commercial for Nutella chocolate spread) is a cheeky day-trip highpoint of BUMPER BROWN, alongside LEFT US TO BURN, an attack on the destruction of industry in the 1980s by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Tory government. The gently soothing NAIRN BEACH (an almost ‘lost’ song, originally from ‘forgotten’ 2004 album AIRDREE) features a perfect example of the recurring strength of this duo: a Hornsby solo in understated support of beautiful finger-picked lead melody by Stephenson.
HOME, written for Stephenson’s mother; DUCKBILL BLUES, a racy ragtime joke; TIME FOR JESUS, performed with intimacy rather than the gospel euphoria of its previously released version; each keeps the standards high for CLEAR RUN OVER THE BRIDGE. MAP IN THE WORLD (named after the rarely played Daintees track which features on it) contains low-key recitals of ROWAN BERRIES, TAKER ON THE GLOBE and SPIRIT CHILD, a trio of Stephenson’s most reflective songs. The latter is, arguably, superior to the version on 1995’s YOGI IN MY HOUSE, offering a simpler lullaby lilt which is appropriately poignant.