Specifically, Jon Boden’s completely superb new album “Songs From The Floodplain”. I have owned it for slightly over a week, after a friend recommended it, and I thought “it’s that chap out of Bellowhead, I ought to see what he does solo”. And as a result I appear to be developing a worrying obsession with this set of 12 songs. A quick look reveals that I have listened to this album more than any other in the last 12 months, and I’ve only owned it for a week. To be honest, I’m sort of hoping that writing a bit about it might allow me to let it go, and listen to something else.
It’s a concept album – all the songs are folksongs from a post-apocalyptic England. Never mind just songwriting – much like say, Tom Waits “Mule Variations” this is an album that contains some of the finest writing of any kind I’ve heard so far this year. Really stellar stuff. I appreciate that folksongs about a landscape of dead motorways and crips packets are very much my thing, but even if you don’t have my particular combination of Ballardian futurism and hippy mythologising wired into your brain, it’s still a must-buy.
There are a number of absolutely stand out tracks – on another album, pretty much any of the first six tracks would be the single stand out track, and here there are six of them, culminating in the utterly ace “Beating The Bounds” which is a superb synthesis of ancient myth and post-collapse storytelling, an old folk tradition recast as an invocation of Britannia in the guise of a chav goddess. (And a couplet from another track, the phrase “the sweet perfume of petrol / like a lover’s parting kiss” from “Days Gone By” is just about the best metaphor I’ve heard so far this year.)
And having written this, I’m off to listen to something else for a while. Because otherwise the novelty is going to wear off.