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As the final act before their hiatus – coming after three critically praised albums in a decade – ‘Live at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge’ is Cherry Ghost performing an intimate, starkly arranged set at the 2015 Heavenly Weekender.Released now for the first time – on double vinyl and download – this is perhaps the best realised collection of songs from Cherry Ghost, the alias of the Ivor Novello award-winning songwriter Simon Aldred.
The instrumentation – Aldred is joined on keyboards and light percussion by Christian Madden and Grenville Harrop – brings to the fore Aldred’s peerless songwriting, his oak-aged, prematurely wisened baritone.’History’ wrote the Quietus in 2014, ‘will be kind to Aldred’, and this collection proves exactly that – with a bit of time and distance, the songs presented here show a highly singular, highly accomplished songwriter, aspiring to the pop classicism of Glen Campbell or Bill Callahan.
All of human life is here – tracking a drizzly Northern gothic of last bus loneliness, late-night Spars, solitary drinkers, factory floors and Gods that betray.And yet, there’s more than meets the eye.There’s magnetic renderings of his best known songs – ‘4AM’, ‘People Help the People’, the soaring ‘Mathematics’ – but surprises reveal themselves.’All I Want’ and ‘Herd Runners’ candidly examine Aldred’s sexuality, whilst the seldom heard b-side ‘Bad Crowd’ reveals Aldred to be a much funnier songwriter than remembered.
What runs right through Aldred’s work, however, is a yearning – a much tested faith in romance – so no wonder that the album ends on its most optimistic notes, at the darkest point of winter nestled in the West Yorkshire valleys, promising clear skies ever closer.