Barley Top’ is an account of growing up in a moorland, working-class village in the Lancashire of the 1930s, remembering its enclosed and limited world and later, coming to terms with a society more complex, wealthier but less able to assess its roots. These are poems that reach back to the historic naming of farms, nod ironically towards the uneasy mood of the late thirties and move into the political tensions of the post-war years.
The music wraps itself around the words; conjuring landscapes, pulsing to the word’s pulse, its tensions parallel to the poems’. Violin and viola dominate, but piano, organ, bass, and found-sounds have their place here too. The last piece, ‘The Sour Land Desolate’ brings together the musical themes throughout ‘Barley Top’ in a ‘symphonic’ finish.
Tracklisting: Joe Anderson • At Barley Top • Uncle Tom and Auntie Lizzie • Eden Street • Cracked Mary • Pit Accident • Frogspawn • The Budding Poet of the Twentieth Century • Pauper Grave • For the Rector of Stiffkey • Saltways Catechism • Dynamo • Barley Top • The Sour Land Desolate
‘Barley Top’ is a top-quality hardback book, sewn sections, with silver foil blocked spine and front. The accompanying audio CD contains the author reading his poems set to music composed by his son, Matt Howden. It comes in a matching black and silver card wallet.
The book is limited to 500 copies, each with an audio CD.
Redroom REDROOM 011 – Released: May 2013