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Saturday, June 25, 2022

OxFolk Reviews: ‘When The Good Times Come Again’

Ben Ray listens to 'When The Good Times Come Again', the new album from Megson

Megson’s latest release, ‘Good Times Will Come Again’, does what all good folk music should: it transmits urgent issues and addresses the problems that everyone faces, all whilst engaging and entertaining the listener. The English folk duo comprises of husband and wife Stu and Debbie Hanna, from North East England, and are well known for writing and performing their own material. This new album is the first to entirely contain songs written by them, and is a stunning success for it. The first opening track ‘Generation Rent’ epitomises this combination of their energetic, loud voice and urgent message: it comes crashing in with a bouncing, toe-tapping tune, addressing the pertinent problem many of us graduating from Oxford are terrified of. The song-writing skill here is second to none- a skilled control of rhythm and rhyme is combined with humorous, sometimes tongue in cheek lyrics: “But the ladder got bent / Generation Rent’s gonna find we’re never gonna own / a place of our own”. These songs are clearly designed not just to entertain, but to engage and question the listener.

The songs on this album are not autobiographical songs. Instead, they address issues and paint pictures of normal lives, thus making the stories told much more relatable- this is not a highly personal album, it is written for the general public. From zero hours wage contracts to finding love in a busy job, these everyday commonplace issues are effortlessly woven into folk tunes with Megson’s characteristic charm and grace. And no wonder these songs are so eloquent- Megson have been three times nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and are double winners of the Spiral Earth Awards, as well as Stu being involved in various folk groups such as Faustus and Show of Hands. ‘Good Times Will Come Again’ is a bold continuation of this work, pushing Megson to the forefront of political songwriting in folk music. Many have compared them to Ewan MacColl, and I would have to agree- their intelligence and insistent, pertinent songs stay in the memory long after the track has finished playing.

This album is a brilliant evocation of where modern English folk music is going- it’s a bold, forceful step into modernity and our everyday lives. The recurring relevance of these tunes to our day to day existence (“I’m gonna pay off my debts when the good times come again”) and the beautiful accompanying melodies that wind around these lyrical stories make this album an absolute joy to listen to. For English folk music, the good times have indeed come again.

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