While many of us were failing at baking, drinking excessively and screaming into our pillows, Brit folk duo Megson spent the first lockdown attempting to document and portray the bizarre microcosm that arose in 2020. Three years later, they have released their findings in the form of their latest album, What Are We Trying To Say? - the perfect album for anyone lucky enough to have just woken up from a three-year coma.
This latest release marks album number thirteen for Teesside-born husband and wife duo Stu and Debbie Hanna, and they continue to assert themselves as one of the finest talents in the world of Brit folk. After thirteen releases, to say that Megson have a distinguishable and unique sound is a certainly an understatement. Haunting vocal harmonies, flowing melodies and inch-perfect instrumentation are to be expected, and they have definitely brought this trademark sound with them as they tackle their lockdown lyrics.
A quick glance at the album cover offers listeners a clue as to what to expect on this album. There are three quite beautiful images of nature, yet the dominating image is of a couple who are lost in their laptop and phone screens.
A sad portrayal of our post-lockdown world, yes, but there is hope in the artwork; the beauties of the world outside our screens are present, all we need to do is look up.
It is unlikely that there is much demand for a reminder of this period of time, of the lockdowns and of the seemingly bottomless pit of media headlines. This is clearly no deterrent for Megson, and from start to finish this album unapologetically tackles these very issues.
From sly depictions of a clickbait-hungry journalist on the title track, to the paranoia-laden anthem The Conspiracy Trap, all of modern society’s ugliest angles are brought to bear on this thought-provoking and eloquent record.
Folk music can often be nostalgic tales of times gone past, or retrospective yearning for a world that is no more. Here we have an album written in the here and now. A wonderful contemporary depiction of our unsettling and chaotic technology-driven modern world and the trials and tribulations that are thrust upon us when we dare to look at a screen.
It’s nice to see that somebody had a productive lockdown.Harvey Coates
Released by EDJ records on CD and digitally 24 March 2023. Produced by Stu Hanna.
1. What Are We Trying to Say?
2. Keeping Him On
3. Before I Know It
4. Next Year
5. Anastasia & William
6. The Conspiracy Trap
7. We Are Better Than This
8. Canny Old Blind Willie
9. The Barber’s News
10. And Finally