London Folk Magazine and News
Second Hand Poet ‘Songs For The Pyre’ Review
The mini-album ‘Songs For The Pyre’ is the latest release by singer/songwriter Second Hand Poet. Otherwise known as Jamie Tipson, he’s been described as “a man of secrecy”, only playing a select few shows every year.
In the past, Tipson made a name for himself as one of the the finalists in the Emerging Talent Competition for Glastonbury, and has played with Paper Aeroplanes, Widowspeak, and Moddi. He was able to buy back the rights to selected tracks on his sold out EP ‘All My Life’, re-record them, and the result was ‘Songs For The Pyre’.
Overall the album is a delicate, well produced collection of work with scaled back vocals, well thought out harmonies, and a healthy dose of brutal honesty.
‘Songs For The Pyre’ begins with the beautiful instrumental intro ‘Badinerie’. This bittersweet violin piece, played by Imogen Rennert, is reminiscent of Keaton Henson’s stunning collaborations with the cellist Ren Ford. However this then gives way to the type of solo, guitar-led folk you’d expect to hear on one of the smaller stages at a music festival.
It’s easy to imagine that this material is successful during live performances, where audiences might love an opportunity to sing along. Catchy refrains like “Drink, drink from the bottle” in ‘Stepping Stone’ would fit perfectly in any space close to a bar. But while Tipson is skilled with rhyme, sometimes he relies a bit too heavily on repetition.
The other instrumental track, the interlude ‘Entr´acte’, is an interesting addition to the album which slots nicely in between its neighbouring songs, but it isn’t quite as emotive as the intro, and therefore feels less necessary.
However, ‘Better Than Me’, the track that it leads on to, stands out lyrically as a blistering highlight. Here, hiding amongst the rest of the album’s sentimentality, there’s relatable and brutal honesty that the listener desperately needs. With a few simple words and uncomplicated guitar playing, Tipson conveys the complexity and bitterness of heartbreak like it’s easy.
Review by Aidan Millan