The children of the late singer Ewan MacColl have reworked and released a collection of their father’s songs featuring some stalwarts of folk music. Andie Riley has had a listen of the album following its release today…

Salford-born Ewan Maccoll died in 1989, having written some of the most beautiful songs in the English language.

This is not a just another collection of his songs repackaged though.

As Neill, Callum and Kitty, his children by Peggy Seeger, say in the sleeve notes, it’s a personal collection of their favourites, reimagined by some of folk musics biggest names, and members of his own family.

His grandson Jamie Maccoll, erstwhile member of Bombay Bicycle Club, takes vocals on “The young birds”, a song written by Ewan after a plane crash in Norway that killed several friends of his son, Hamish, and was written in their memory.

Callum himself not only produces the entire project, but also plays on the majority of tracks, either on guitar or taking on mixing duties. Neill is here on mandolin, guitar and the sleeve design was overseen by Kitty.

From the off, you know that this isn’t just another collection of songs.

From the opener of disc one, Damien Dempsey, and his version of Schooldays Over all the way through to the final on disc two, Sale’s very own David Gray covering the title track, every single piece of music has been lovingly crafted by musicians who are not only outstanding in their field, but who passionately care about the legacy of Maccoll.

Maccoll was at the front of cultural and political activism for close on 60 years, writing about industrial strife, human rights, fascism and many other areas over his career. When he died in 1989, he left behind a vast catalogue of work.

His homily to his place of birth “Dirty old Town” is still played before Salford Devils run out to play, but the Pogues version currently used could well be replaced by the stonking version on this album by Steve Earle.

Overall, it’s very difficult to find a weak track on this album.

From folk musics young guns like Seth Lakeman (The Shoals of Herring) to more established pop stars like Jarvis Cocker (The Battle is Done With), and the grand old lady of folks first family, Norma Waterson (Moving On Song), it’s an album that has the ability to surprise with every track.

Folk fan or not, this is an album of beautiful songs.

By Andie Riley

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