Matt Hill – Savage Pilgrims

Album Review | Quiet Loner Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson

In places reminiscent of the late Jackie Leven, albeit shifted from the Kingdom of Fife to the Sheriffdom of Nottingham, Matt Hill tells a good tale.  Each song is a story, often cinematic and in at least one place set to a convincing Ennio Morricone soundtrack, where the atmosphere and feel takes on the spirit of a Sergio Leone Western.  If “The Exile of DH Lawrence” shows us one side of the prairie, namely through Nottingham’s favourite son, then “Gary Gilmore’s Last Request” offers a glimpse at the other, a strange but factual encounter between the man on Death Row and the Man in black.  It’s been a song just waiting to be written.

Recorded at The Kings Arms in Salford, whose most famous ex-barfly might possibly be George Orwell, the songs are captured using vintage microphones to create a retro live feel, though recorded in the attic studio, rather than in the bar over a pint with Mr Blair.  British literary figures don’t stop there, as Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Bendy’s Sermon” is referenced in the action-packed boxing yarn “Bendigo”, with seconds most definitely out.  Savage Pilgrims is a rare example of Anglo/American sensibilities merging like honey.

Choice Track: The Exile of DH Lawrence (NSV 503)