"The Piper Plays A Damn Fine Tune" - John Hackett's new album reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

A new album by Mr John Hackett is always something to be looked forward to, and like so many others during these crazy times, he has made the most of his "downtime" if you can call Lockdown that, to write and record this one at home. The result is the punningly titled; The Piper Plays His Tune.

The album gets under way with a somewhat confessional start with Masters Of My Past in which there are echoes of the reflections on life that made John's debut album, Checking Out Of London so enjoyable. What impressed right from the start is the skill with which John performs on all of the instruments even those out of his normal ambit. OK, you can get away with much these days thanks to technology but the rest is down to the obvious skill of the musician and it all bears John's unmistakable stamp.

Broken features another familiar reflection on not letting the sun go down on an argument and has a wonderful duet between John and his daughter Laura. A delightful wistful and searingly honest effort.

In Love has an almost Calypso styled swagger to it, and I love the unmistakable sound of a Hammond organ in this one. Shades of Ten CC' s Bloody Tourists album to my ears and there's nowt wrong with that in my book!

Crying Shame features some of John's soaring flute work - well he is a flautist after all! Musically this features some impressive playing from John on a whole gamut of instruments. Musings on the mistakes that the human race continues to make - wondering if perhaps, in these Pandemic driven times if the human "Piper" really has played his last tune? Let's hope not, eh?

Broken Glass is another superb evocation of our current times and how, in this situation everyone has the tendency to withdraw into themselves and become wrapped up in themselves and fails to see the wonders of the world around them. Definitely a song with resonance right now as everyone does feel as if they are walking on broken glass right now.

Julia is a bit more meaty, with a delicious rhythm guitar line redolent of the same chords that The Beatles used, a story of teenage love the kind that they wrote so well.

Too Late For Dreamers is the direct descendant of the Checking Out Of London album, a vivid recollection of what it was like to be a teenager in 1963. The idealism, the dreams, the naivete all of which are sadly gone now and just like the song, we are left wondering, what if…?

Clown is another brittle musing on life's mistakes: "mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the saddest clown of all?" A question I am sure we have all asked ourselves when we look at the mirror of our lives. A superb tale of love lost, love rejected all driven along by some excellent rhythm guitar from Mr Hackett and another with its roots firmly laid in the Sixties.

Loved By You continues the trend of quiet reflection which dominates the album before we come to the closing track: There You Go Again, which I am sure is a wry homage to John's own good lady, Katrin who plays such an important part in his life.

The album is not as polished as its predecessors and not only is that to be expected given the fact that John did it all himself rather than have the usual efforts of others to round things out. This makes it all the more refreshing and what really shines through is John's skill not only as a musician, but also as a song writer in the old school of the troubadours. The end result is a solidly enjoyable album and one which bodes well for the future when normality (whatever that is) returns.

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