Bedfordshire born, Devon based guitarist Ben Morgan-Brown is back with his new instrumental album Down by the Great River Ouse, a celebration of nature inspired by the countryside and aimed at promoting ecological consciousness.
The titular opening track was conceived to represent the tranquil feelings of the many hours he spent with his father, fishing on a stretch of the Great Ouse in Bedfordshire during his youth. It immediately introduces the listener to the serene mood of the entire release and to the warm and round tones of his guitar.
Many tracks are in fact inspired, as stated in the useful sleeve notes, by personal experiences. Take for instance the steady-paced Piglets, composed after visiting the Knep Estate in West Sussex, or the dreamlike Nights Under Heavy Canvas, representing the emotions of his camping adventures.
Despite many of these tracks being moderate or fast paced tunes, there are also a few contemplative pieces on this album. River of Tyres Lament, written to underline the dangers of water pollution, is the most intense among them.
Morgan-Brown’s versatility and ability to blend different techniques and influences is underlined by the subtle grain of American country music in Border Trot and Squirrel on the Deer Path, two of the most jolly passages on the entire album.
The sleeve notes also tell a funny anecdote about the ever-changing Scaffold of Churches, perhaps the most remarkable track on this release. Morgan-Brown had neither a clear picture of the inspiration for this composition, nor a title for it, until singer-songwriter Reg Meuross commented that it sounded like church scaffolding.
Picturing the beauty of the English countryside with these peaceful and well-crafted compositions, Ben Morgan-Brown has gifted us a serene, mesmerising and highly personal musical journey across a varied series of soundscapes, all flowing into each other, just like the twists and turns of the great Ouse.Michele Mele
Released on 4 February 2022, recorded, mixed and mastered by George Arnold at Rapunzel Studios, Seaton, Devon
1. Down by the Great River Ouse
2. The Last Time I Saw Martin
3. Night Under Heavy Canvas
4. Stream of Tyres Lament
5. Squirrel on the Deer Trail
6. Queen Beech
7. The Border Trot
9. The Scaffold of Churches
10. Windowsills Revisited