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Architecture & Archaeology – Greg Hancock

May 21, 2021

Songs are made of words and music and it is rare to find a songwriter who has the balance exactly right. Greg Hancock has though. The musicianship on this album is exquisite, with help from some heavyweight friends in George Arnold, Lucas Drinkwater on various instruments and backing vocals from Harbottle and Jonas and Alex Seel.

Greg’s voice slips easily into your ear. There is rhythm, metre, rhyme, certainly but none of these are predictable. The songs are deeply personal. Sometimes listening feels like an intrusion into a private space but in the end the songs call you in and hold you. Hancock acknowledges early influences from the likes of John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, and Nic Jones…even Jimmy Page but nowhere do these influences intrude upon his songs.

‘Dead End Road’ seems to be a song of parting that allows the story to float along on a soft bed of intricate acoustic guitar and double bass with a jazz feel. I say ‘seems’ because what you take from these songs will be coloured in large measure by what you bring to them. Isn’t that the sign of a good song? ‘His Twisted Fingers’ tells a story of a care setting where an old musician’s “…twisted fingers still twitch above a piano that isn’t there…” and mealtimes with an old lady form a “…complicated pas-de-deux”.

Don’t look for verses, choruses, middle eight here. These songs inhabit a different space. ‘Not Quite Ready’  tells of saying goodbye to a parent at the end of life in a way that is beyond my ability to describe. Be prepared for the occasional tear if you accept the challenge of listening to these songs. There is one instrumental called ‘This Day (Like All Days)’ that demonstrates Greg’s fine guitar work and, frankly, comes as something of a welcome lessening of intensity.

This is song writing at its absolute best and I’m itching to hear them live  as soon as circumstances allow.

Philip Thomas

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