Album Review | Hatsongs Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5
Reg Meuross is one of the most reliable singer songwriters in the country today. His songs are often touching, poignant and easily accessible, yet he doesn’t feel a need to shriek or scowl, grumble or growl, rather, he stands before us with guitar in hand and moves through a song as a concerned observer, calmly watching and reporting back with honesty and compassion. There are no banners, no marches, no changing profile pictures, just words and melodies to awaken our senses in a most effective way. He’s not likely to baffle, perturb or confuse us with needless ambiguity, rather he speaks in a language we all understand – a singer songwriter through to the bone. Faraway People is inhabited with characters, real or imagined but vividly drawn. There’s the implausible scenario of Phil Ochs and Elvis Presley grabbing a bite to eat at a supermarket just outside Doncaster. Then there’s Hank Williams and Dylan Thomas emptying bottles of the hard stuff in an Alabama bar before literally and metaphorically leaving us. Then we find the unnamed angel in a blue dress, the queen of soul, a nurse let down by her government once again, and Sophie, a conscientious student, murdered, along with a sibling and a friend, by an evil regime for distributing leaflets in wartime Germany. The songs’ subjects weave through time and space, both historical and current, such as the story of the former student Ahmad Al-Rashid, a Syrian Kurd refugee, whose flight to freedom from his war torn homeland is really just one of hundreds of such stories, yet is still poignant and moving. There’s Michael Brown, the victim of yet another race killing, cut down in his prime, like any number of Dylan heroes who have gone before. The list of characters is endless, a number of them packed into the opening four and a half minutes of the title song “Faraway People”, as the songs cover a pattern of life we unfortunately know only too well, from modern times way back to the Roman era courtesy of Cicero. Protest songs with a keen eye on human nature and the foibles that go with it. These are songs of and for our times, meticulously observed and intricately rendered in verse, with the sparsest of accompaniment, together with one or two love songs in order to balance our anger and fear. Songwriting at its best and in more than capable hands.