Hi, my first solo CD looking Back comprising 10 origional songs is now available from myself at gigs or from Kidney research UK
kidney research site
Teesside-born Mark has been a familiar face on the Wharfedale folk scene for more than a dozen years, being involved in running the Pannal (Millfolk) club and sessions and as a regular performer at Otley Folk Club, both solo and with folk-bluegrass trio Northern Lights. His trademark rich, deep voice (with its overtones of Johnny Cash!), together with his easygoing guitar style, makes him an ideal performer of country music, but on this release the clue lies more in its title, for Looking Back is what Mark is doing here with a collection of ten of his own songs written over the past ten years. Around two-thirds of these can be placed firmly in the "tradition" of contemporary industrial/vocational balladry, the remainder being affecting songs of lost love.
Mark's family made their living in the Staithes area, from the sea and mining (and his father eventually got his own boat), so many of Mark's own songs are well steeped in the sea and the fishing, compassionately and intensely expressing, in simple and direct language, the contradictory emotions, the sense of resignation and inevitable tragedy set against the deep lure of the sea and the straightforward justification for the employment. Natural nostalgia for the work and its happier times is always tinged with infinite regret at the lives lost.
There are some outstanding songs in this category here that deserve a permanent place in the modern tradition – Waiting On The Shore, Gone To Sea, Mists Of Time and Lifeboat Song especially come to mind – and they stand the test of time well, being memorable both for their deeply-felt and thoughtful sentiments and their strong melodic content. The non-fishing songs provide a contrast, for they're couched in a different musical idiom, that of contemporary country singer/songwriter; 42 And Counting, Do You Think That I'm Crazy and Crimson Skies are attractive compositions evidently much inspired by the Hugh Moffatt/Kate Wolf repertoire which Mark performs live with Northern Lights, whereas Lost At Sea is more reflective, its catchy use of refrain reminiscent of Ewan Carruthers or vintage Allan Taylor.
Finally a word of praise for Mark's decision to resist any temptation to over-arrange the songs, preferring instead to keep the accompaniment simple and unpretentious (just his own guitar, with well-judged contributions from John Savage (fiddle) and Steve Fairholme (melodeon) and fellow-Northern Lights members Anne Jackson and Chris Rawnsley; the production too is admirably unfussy, allowing the listener to concentrate on the songs. Congratulations to Mark on finally getting it together in the studio to set down these fine songs for posterity.