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'Am 28. Dezember 1879 ereignete sich nahe der schottischen Stadt Dundee eine der großen Katastrophen der Eisenbahngeschichte. In den dunklen, winterlichen Abendstunden stürzte ein Teil der drei Kilometer langen Brücke über den Meeresarm Firth of Tay unter dem Gewicht eines Passagierzugs ein, wobei mehr als siebzig Menschen verunglückten. Über Jahre wurde der Fall untersucht, man kam zu dem Schluss, dass schlampige Bauarbeit und mangelnde Wartung zu dem schlechten Zustand der Brücke beitrugen. Nie wurde man sich aber einig, ob und wie sehr die Ingenieure, die die Tay Bridge konstruiert hatten, mit Schuld an dem Unfall waren.

Auf dem Cover des neuen The Great Park-Albums “Woe” ist das bekannteste Foto der eingestürzten Brücke zu sehen, und dies ist nicht die einzige Referenz an das Ereignis. In einem der Songtexte sind Passagen aus einer historischen Darstellung enthalten, doch bei genauerem Hinhören entsteht schnell der Eindruck, dass die acht Songs auf vielfältige Art mit den Ereignissen um den Unfall verwoben sind und das lyrische Ich sich immer wieder neu mit (echten oder fiktionalisierten) Beteiligten vage überblendet und so deren Ängsten, Schuldgefühlen und resignativen Gedanken eine Stimme gibt – oder in ihnen eine Allegorie für seine eigenen findet. Doch die Texte sind zum Glück zu eigenwillig und die in ihnen anklingenden Geschichten zu ausschnitthaft, um dies genau festlegen zu können.

All dies verschmilzt zu einer untrennbaren Einheit mit dem vertrauten folkigen The Great Park-Sound, dessen Skelett aus sanften oder spukhaften Gitarrenpickings und Stephen Burchs Gesang (der an einigen Stellen noch verzweifelter und heißerer anmutet als sonst) diesmal mit Keyboard, einer zweiten Gitarre und perkussiv verwendeten Ketten und Rasseln ergänzt wird. Streicher und Bläser, mit denen Burch hier und da liebäugelte, kommen in den letzten Jahren und so auch hier nicht mehr vor, und vielleicht würden diese auch zu sehr vom Wesentlichen, nämlich vom ergriffenen Charisma des Gesangs und den in ihrer Schlichtheit so eindringlichen Akkorden ablenken.

Natürlich ragt auch hier wieder einiges heraus, exemplarisch sollen das psychologisch feinfühlige “Make Each Other Anew”, das in seiner Direktheit erschütternde “I Do You Don’t” und das epische “Men in Corners” genannt werden, dessen beklemmende, angsterfüllte Stimmung, die nur halb hinter der staunenden Melodie und dem hypnotischen Takt kaschiert wird, in eine Klasse mit großartigen Songs wie “We Should Have, We Could Have, We Didn’t” gehört.

Als Konzeptalbum würde ich “Woe” dennoch nicht bezeichnen, zu vage und diffus bleiben die Bezüge der Songs zum Tay Bridge Desaster, so dass einen immer mal wieder das Gefühl beschleicht, man bilde sich den thematischen Rahmen letztlich doch nur ein. Doch auch wenn man so weit nicht gehen will, funktionieren die Songs auch ohne Wissen über diesen Hintergrund, so wie man einen guten Umberto Eco- oder Antonia Byatt-Roman auch ohne die entsprechenden Geschichtskenntnisse lesen kann. Wie die Klammer eines imaginären Faktenromans wirkt Woe allerdings, da sich fast zeitgleich zu seiner Veröffentlichung der Einsturz der Ponte Morandi in Genua ereignete, in dessen Folge sich die Diskussionen von damals in den Statements von Technikern und Politikern z.T. fast buchstäblich wiederholen. Dies verleiht dem Ganzen eine weitere tragische, beinahe surreale Dimension.' (U.S.)

africanpaper.com/2018/09/01/the-great-park-woe/

credits

released August 19, 2018

Stephen Burch: Martin D35 acoustic guitar, nylon string guitar, keyboards, percussion and vocals.

‘Woe’ contains lines from William McGonagall’s ‘Tay Bridge Disaster’ and ’Holy Trouble No More’ contains lines inspired by Ovid’s ‘Tristia’.

Cover photograph ‘Fallen girders, Tay Bridge’ from the National Library of Scotland.

‘I Do You Don’t’ and ’Holy Trouble No More’ recorded in Aarau, Switzerland. Everything else recorded at home in Fürth and at Stefanie and Maria’s apartment in Nürnberg, Germany. Many thanks to them.

All songs written and recorded by Stephen Burch. Copyright 2018, all rights reserved.

Woodland Recordings catalogue number WR074.

www.thegreatpark.co.uk
thegreatpark@icloud.com

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The Great Park Germany

Stephen Burch. Problem folk, songs with words.

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Track Name: The River Of Men Flows Without End
THE RIVER OF MEN FLOWS WITHOUT END

i got my hands on your shoulders and the cold isn’t cold now
and as the rain chucks it all down my fingers cling on
and i gather your hair up and i breathe it all in
and it’s dark and it’s heavy and we're tangled and soaked
and every short breath and every tight grip
is a piece of the story is a part of the song
oh that you were my true love oh that you were my young wife
and that the heavens would open and drown us tonight
Track Name: Men In Corners
MEN IN CORNERS

i didn’t think before i opened up
i didn’t think i’ve not been thinking much
now you got questions boys that’s fair enough
you wanna pull some teeth gotta get things done

the day was dark the night was long
the wind was whipping up a wicked song
deep december sheets of ice
a sliding star the farm alight

well i came to buy but i was told to sell
so i went to court cause i needed help
i went to court and i lost my nerve
it’s fair to say we’re not on the best of terms

men in corners they start fires
men in corners they are hungry liars
we set a place what were we thinking of
give em knives they’re gonna cut things up
show a hand they’ll cut it off

i just came to thee for to rest a while
i never dreamed that id be pressed to fight
i’ve not got much no mouths to feed
sometimes you want sometimes you need

give an inch they take a mountainside
tell em stay they sail oceans wide
raise a glass they leave you high and dry
steal a glance they pluck out eyes

men in corners they start fires
men in corners they are hungry liars
we set a place what were we thinking of
give em knives they’re gonna cut things up
show a hand they’ll cut it off

they plugged me with wires gold green and copper blue
they scrubbed my eyes tears fell like parachutes
they bled the best of me wide away
they took desperate measures of volume and weight

they took teeth they took hair
they looked for kindness it wasn’t there
they will not stop they’ll never have their fill
they started early they work there still

men in corners they start fires
men in corners they are hungry liars
we set a place what were we thinking of
give em knives they’re gonna cut things up
show a hand they’ll cut it off 
Track Name: Make Each Other Anew
MAKE EACH OTHER ANEW

so i pulled all the leaves down from the trees
i gathered them up and took them with me
and the night came on and the day getting gone
and you are well on your way so here comes the song

we were forever alight and never without
it was blow winds blow and scream and shout
and i stood up straight thought i could handle it all
but you are built for the mountains and i’m built for the fall

these days i know we cannot win
my head loses face and my compass spins
and immediately we become strangers again 
we got to make each other got to make each other anew

and from the london docks to the water well
you are the source and the cause of the ocean swell
you are weighted at rest and as steam on the move
you are fearless on tiptoes clumsy and true

well i stumble on my feet but i run on my knees
you have a tongue that can cut and fingers that bleed
i am childless aimless without and behind
you are the peach and the plum and the thorn in my side

these days i know we cannot win
my head loses face my compass spins
and immediately we become strangers again 
we got to make each other got to make each other anew

now there’s not much to lose down here in the mire
theres nothing cowardly about having to hide
there ain’t nothing new in the shape of the song
and theres nothing to see here girls move along

you wrote you’d be here in time you were hours late
you said i’ll see you tonight you were gone for days
i should be used to the silence the holding of breath
but it hasn’t to be honest got easier yet

and hearne the hunter still haunts the old woods 
he had a home in the oak and we slept there too
and you clung on close and you whispered to my skin
all the ways you would take it and pull it in

by now the fighting has stopped and the birds have returned
they settle themselves on the Yew and the Birch
the fields turn soft it’s almost spring
we got to wait and see what the warm weather brings
Track Name: I Do You Don't
I DO YOU DON’T

so if god moves on the water the devil moves on the land
and there ain’t no such thing as angels with wings only demons on the ground
the stuff that dreams are made of the hopes and the promises made may they all go to hell

well we dragged that boat up the coast before the tide came in
but the water wants what the water wants and one should not fight with it
and as the rain fell fast as the waves came hard my hopes and my promises made yeah they all went to hell

but if you give me an inch i will dive in deep and i need not rise for air
i believe my breath will not leave me in death but will swell my shell under there
but youth seemed to vanish as quick as it came and nine months later i don’t know my face at all

cut the ropes i am slipping and if i’m going i cannot hold on
don’t stop, it hurts my love i do you don't
i do you don't

but every minute of every day we get a chance to do what’s right
and there’s no confusion it is clear and it is cold it is cut and it is black and it is white
and we all hope to fall with the butter side up and we cling to this thing we believe called luck and his father

Yes every minute of every day the question is what’s right
but i seize the bad with both of my hands and i squeeze out all the life
and the choke sounds to me like a joke so as it coughs well i just scoff it all away

cut the ropes i am slipping and if i’m going well i cannot hold on
don’t stop, it hurts my love i do you don't
i do you don't

oh say what you will i will stay around still please keep me within reach
there is something they call the spark of life i only know where the darkness is
and the missing is the thing that kills me if you were really gone it could be easier to be without

cut the ropes i am slipping and if i’m going i cannot hold on
don’t stop, it hurts my love i do you don't
i do you don't
Track Name: Woe
WOE

i saw fourteen tall black flags on the western road
and there was no one left there was nowhere else to go
so we walked back to the horses to turn around
and you were fine and light we were leaves upon the ground

but there are bullies and bastards and broadswords let’s get gone
i know you’re not one to run but the cause was never more lost
and red stars like embers low in the ash filled sky
they fall on our skin and they burn some oh my life

woe, woe, woe, woe, woe
woe, woe, woe, woe, woe
and the rain came pouring down
and the dark clouds seemed to frown
and the rain came pouring down on me

smoke and steam in the scottish evening the northern line
the train above the water a coal black night
beautiful railway bridge of the silvery Tay
gives it up with a groan and it’s gone and suddenly away

at pluck the crow point the planks on the pebble beach
how simple sometimes to lose such a powerful thing
and i never took your love to heart i never believed
that one so young and wise could fall for me

woe, woe, woe, woe, woe
woe, woe, woe, woe, woe
and the rain came pouring down
and the dark clouds seemed to frown
and the rain came pouring down on me

tonight the stables roll as the foals within them dream
yeah they breathe in deep through hay and straw and sleep
and i was on the air i was blown and i’ve come to rest
on your waist, your hips, your cheeks your delicate chest

and you sigh i move I try to be true i swear
the beast from the east can cut and rub me bare
but in the shade of your sun my one i'll worry less
yeah man up boy be brave and blame thyself

woe, woe, woe, woe, woe
woe, woe, woe, woe, woe
and the rain came pouring down
and the dark clouds seemed to frown
and the rain came pouring down on me

fourteen tall black flags on the western road
braids and books and woe woe woe woe woe
now a shadow falls slow upon my heart
oh my days i never knew it so dark

oh that you were my true love
Track Name: Holy Trouble No More
HOLY TROUBLE NO MORE

there are boats there are boats there on the mountain side
there’s a fire and there’s a fire on the shoreline
i never did it i never did it i never lit the match
i didn’t start this fight but i’ll bring it back
holy holy holy
holy trouble no more

that lake there at the top i know is miles wide
and she threw off her dress and she stood so fine
there is a need i got it too we want to jump right in
well i did it and it’s true i jumped right in
holy holy holy
holy trouble no more

but there’s a question there’s a question on the lips of my
my lover she asks me to run and hide
i take a room i make it new somehow start again
and theres a place here for you plans and promises
holy holy holy
holy trouble no more

my north my lord how the snow does fall
upon the sea and everything that fell before
no vessels can there upon the billows ride
nor well placed oars the heavy waves divide
holy holy holy
holy trouble no more
Track Name: The Fog Has Not Lifted
THE FOG HAS NOT LIFTED

the fog has not lifted and the birds do not sing
they settle on the branches but they don’t say a thing
and this used to be green fields where the stroudwater runs
but ten thousand boots have churned it to mud 
and if my letters reach you if the parcels get through
well i hope they bring some sort of comfort for you 
but i’m too scared to ask too frightened to say
do you think that you’ll make it do you see a way

cause the fog has not lifted the sea out of sight
it’s sits there somewhere in the thickness and white
and i walk on wet stones i have salt on my lips
and it’s as if you were with me it’s as if you were here
yeah it’s as if i had listened it’s as if i had been kind
it’s as if i could have known how this would wreck me in time
should get to some cover hear a whistle and a cry
and there’s a ringing in my ears and there's smoke in my eyes

the fog has not lifted it presses on the ground
so i wait for an answer a signal a sound
but the sky stays soupy and the wind does not blow
the air hangs cold with slow falling snow
and my way home is unclear my footprints fade
and i know not now from whence i came
no i know not the hour no i know not the place
i have written and waited and wasted the days
Track Name: I Know How This Happened
I KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED

well the guests left early today cause i was silent and sullen and strange
i know i wasn’t made to flatter
and if we ever get to berlin again remind me to care less
those reliable friends i can count them on one hand
i know, i know how this happened
i know, i know how this happened

our shoes are caked with dirt cause we walked to the end of the earth
and back again but it really doesn’t feel flat
and your dresses are perfumed and wet and i loved to pull you out of them
we did lay down like nothing else mattered
and i know, i know how this happened
i know, i know how this happened

and if i ever want a good night’s sleep i got to get you out of my dreams
change the train and drop off the baggage
cause you are present in every breath as the morning comes creeping in
nothing works you are missed and happy
and i know, i know how this happened
i know, i know how this happened

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