Steve Tilston – Such Times

Album Review | Riverboat Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson

It’s almost fifty years ago to the day since Steve Tilston released his debut album, An Acoustic Confusion, back in 1971 on the Village Thing label, which effectively saw the young musician join the ranks of guitar totin’ troubadours like Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Wizz Jones and Ralph McTell.  With half a century’s worth of material under his belt, songs that just seem to keep coming, Steve has maintained a high standard along the way, occasionally popping one or two traditional songs into his repertoire as well as the odd Elvis cover.  His latest album does nothing whatsoever to hinder or harm Steve’s enduring reputation, in fact a good few of the songs on Such Times are right up there with the best of them.  Look no further than “Satellite’s Decree” to start with, a humdinger of a song, which this reviewer first heard almost exactly a year ago during one of Steve’s last gigs before the virus came along to spoil the party.  “Daylight Rising” is a fitting opener, a moment of optimism in the face of adversity, with a hopeful end to the long nights and ill winds in sight. For “A Million Miles Away”, Steve reaches once again for the banjo, an actual banjo that is, and not the generic term for any stringed instrument that his father once referred to, while “Waters of March” adopts the Latin rhythms of Brazil with a lilting take on the early 1970s Antônio Carlos Jobim composition. Steve reaches back on at least a couple of occasions by revisiting his own “Living with the Blues” for good reason, and “Dust From My Heels”, one of Steve’s most joyous songs, though perhaps now tinged with sadness, in that those towns once visited are now temporarily out of reach. With a cover shot that so accurately depicts such times as these, a visiting performer arriving on time, with guitar in hand, poised to deliver, but with the absence of an integral ingredient.  Such times indeed.