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Album Review Meatyard songsmith

SIMON PILBEAM waxes lyrical over the latest album from the indomitable JD Meatyard

JD MEATYARD has a long history of sharp polemic and biting social comment — as far back as the late 1980s John Peel was broadcasting Meatyard’s poetic anger as leader of Levellers 5 and Calvin Party. 
This new material may suggest a sugaring of the pills but make no mistake; there is no compromise here.

The title track Love is a call for a new love generation and a compassionate community to return to the world. A simple message, deftly put across with passion, and a potshot at those who “know the price of everything but the value of nothing.” The ghost of Lennon smiles benignly as Donaldson assures us that all we need is all we needed back in 1967, the thing we have always needed. A classic campfire singalong for sure. Any festival would be enhanced by it.

Workers Unite elaborates on the theme of community. A modern protest song with a mournful bluesy edge, it is soaked in the blood and sweat of a man who has experienced back-breaking, grafting work with little recompense for himself. There is no mawkish sentiment in a song that reaches towards defining the dignity of labour. Whether in Britain, Spain or Dimbulb, Arizona the working man/woman is the same: worker, not profiteer.

Album closer History Thieves is the perfect ending. An eerie orchestral backing adds to the drama as JD spits vitriol on the rewriting of lore to denigrate the Celts. “Send me photographs you hang beneath the fire, burn our history, the flames are getting higher.” The truth stolen by the burning of books, the assets stolen by the rich, corrupt and powerful. Sound familiar?

Undoubtedly the stand out track is Eldorado II. It involves a Godless priest, a young JD, “Donny”, his indomitable Da, and the combined force of the Darwen Constabulary. “Father had a cheap wine legacy … opening the door with my priest-caned fingers.”

The “man in black” comes knocking at the door. Donny says: “Get upstairs, Son,” and that’s the last time they see the priest. Meatyard unleashes shouts of catharsis and exorcised ghosts. A simple effective guitar, a poignant violin, and the emphatic last words: “Thanks Da” make this a truly amazing piece of art.

After so many consistently crafted albums you’d expect an artist with the back catalogue of Donaldson to be running on fumes by now. How has he managed to produce perhaps his best one yet? The album hangs together as an exhilarating whole. Touching on hip-hip hipocracy, coming of age at a roots reggae club, the effect of film on life and those Deep Fake people we know, to our cost, all too well, this is an album begging to be heard.    

Love is self-released. For more information please see:


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