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Show of Hands - Wake The Union (Self Release)

Star rating: 
4

The thirteenth studio album by one of Britain's most enduring acoustic roots duos features fifteen new songs predominantly from the pen of chief songwriter Steve Knightley, with a little help from Seth Lakeman on the opening song Haunt You, together with Chris Hoban's hauntingly beautiful ode to New Orleans Katrina, Bob Dylan's obscure cowboy song Seven Curses and Richard Shindell's Prairie ballad Reunion Hill. Known for his distinctly English songs, the material on WAKE THE UNION tends to straddle the border of what we now know as Americana in places, but with the band's British acoustic roots still showing. The cover shot of a well-travelled guitar maps out the journey these songs represent with little or no ambiguity.

Although one or two songs might be familiar to anyone present at a recent Show of Hands gig, such as the crowd pleasing anthem Now You Know or the Chumbawamba-esque Stop Copying Me, much of the album is entirely new. With contributions from an impressive array of musicians such as Martin Simpson, Seth Lakeman, BJ Cole, Andy Cutting, Paul Sartin, Cormac Byrne, Paul Downes, Rex Preston and Jenna Witts, the Mark Tucker produced album also  features Phil Henry and Hannah Martin, the duo who accompanied Show of Hands on their last tour and also The Duhks banjo player Leonard Podolak, who along with fiddler Matt Gordon will accompany the band on their forthcoming Autumn tour.
 
I'm assuming, and I will accept the QI klaxon if I'm wrong, that the final song on WAKE THE UNION will provide Steve and Phil and not forgetting the now firmly established third pair of hands, double bassist Miranda Sykes, with a tailor-made finisher for each of their forthcoming shows. Thanks effectively gives a big thank you to everybody, not only for coming to the gig, but for staying with the duo for the last twenty years.  

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky