Prodigal Son: The Concert – Martin Simpson | DVD review

 (Topic/Planet DVD) 3.5 stars

Guitar virtuoso Martin Simpson spent 15 years living in the USA before re-settling in Sheffield.

The English troubadour’s transatlantic folk roots are revealed and explored on his absorbing DVD `Prodigal Son – The Concert’, recorded in London following his 2007 breakthrough CD.

The two-hour concert comprises solo and backing trio sets.

Click here to listen to tracks from the CD

There’s also an absorbing 25-minute documentary, ‘You Can Go Home’, in which the singer-songwriter revisits old haunts around his hometown of Scunthorpe; from his primary school to the site of the local folk club where he played his first gig (aged 12), and of course, the steelworks’ giant blast furnace towers.

Reminiscences about his childhood and parents (both deceased) add poignancy to introspective melodies such as `She Slips Away’ and `Mother Love’, but especially the deeply affectionate `Never Any Good’, about his dad.

Like its CD sibling, the `Prodigal Son’ concert DVD is a must for acoustic folk guitar aficionados.

Watching Simpson’s fingers casually ripple though complex runs and chord changes as he tunes up, you realise some are born to play while the rest of us can merely sit back and marvel.

Also highly recommended is his deceptively-named CD `Bootleg USA’ (Topic/Planet), which the guitarist compiled from US solo performances in 1997-99.

- Mike Daly

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