Peter Fergus McClelland, The Turn of the Tide: Songs of the Sea, Coast, Fishing, Rivers, Lovers & Banishment. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

The river plays such an important part in our lives that the only surprise is that perhaps we don’t venerate it in song even more than we do. No matter where you live, what county, what city or town, there is a river nearby that has had tales, songs and lyrical beauty bestowed upon it at some time or another. It doesn’t need to be the Thames, the musically enamoured Mersey, the mighty Clyde, the Tyne, the industrious Weir or the Tamar, what matters is that river plays such a role that the musician will find time to give it a moment of life, to capture it forever.

Peter Fergus McClelland has taken the imagery of the river and where each drop that floats initially lazily downstream, eventually the sea in all its raging glory, its white foamed cruelty and its beguiling beauty is met and rinsed to start the cycle over and over again. It is in this mix of storm filled cool and dramatic turns in the river’s course that the musician has penned some vivid and impressive Folk tales that makes up The Turn of the Tide: Songs of the Sea, Coast, Fishing, Rivers, Lovers & Banishment.

Mr. McClelland sense of wonder pervades through the album like with the knowing approach of the seasoned fisherman pulling in his vessel out of the storm that is on the horizon, the hairs on the back of the hand, weathered perhaps with age but still able to tether down the mightiest of ships should the need require, find each song a captivating bounty, the smell of the quayside, the rain soaked air filling the nostrils with a sense of purpose and memory; these are the moments that make the album sing with the mixture of Folk and the songs of the sea.

In tracks such as The Island of St. Helena, Make and Break Harbour, the upbeat and honest The Herring’s Head, Candlelight Fisherman and Just As The Tide Was Flowing, Mr. McClelland takes the listener to the source of the feelings we associate with the contentment and the awe of which the natural world takes for granted but in which the hopeful innocent eyes which we can possess, see the words written in the sand at our feet and in which we take heed.

The Turn of the Tide is a beautifully scenic album, one that like a dominating river is impossible to pull away from.


Ian D. Hall