Michael Weston King: I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier

~ Thursday, 15 July 2010
Weston King is one of those artists that seems to lurk just under most peoples radar. He is well known within the UK Americana field but this has never translated into record sales or an eager audience for his live shows. Pity, as Weston King is a passionate soul with some worthwhile listening in his back catalogue. I have seen the man live on several occasions after first catching him when he was touring with Jackie Leven and Andy White, and while it is fair to say he does not possess the same depth as either of his counterpart, he is capable of holding his own.

For this record Weston King has taken his fascination with the history of protest songs and the people who wrote them and paid tribute to them by reworking and interpreting the songs for the world today as well as updating the genre with his own words and music. The boots he has stepped into are mighty big ones to fill. Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie inspired a whole generation of songwriters like Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan to grasp the mantle and carry on the protest song tradition and Weston King sees himself as a keeper of these traditions. Indeed he even covers Ochs (Cops Of The World and Is There Anybody There?) and Dylan (I Pity The Poor Immigrant) and remains pretty faithful to the originals. All these tracks are as relevant today as they were when they first appeared and credit to Weston King for bringing these to a new generation.

The self penned material here is no less powerful than the covers and sung with true belief and conviction. The title track borrows its lyrics from a 1915 poem by Alfred Bryan and show that the world is not that different today from the world that inspired Bryan to write such stirring and powerful words. Hey Ma, I'm Coming Home is a delicate song that belies the lyrical sentiments contained within and even borrows a few bars of the Simon and Garfunkel classic Homeward Bound to brilliant effect.

The album ends on what is for me the best track of the twelve contained here, a sublime cover of Bobby Darin's Simple Song Of Freedom with the lyrics updated to reflect the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm sure Darin would heartily approve.

This is a powerful and touching tribute to unsung heroes and forgotten ideals that should bring Weston King some richly deserved plaudits.


[][][][] (4/5)