More than two decades on the road. 25 album releases. 2 Honorary Doctorates, 3 BBC Folk Awards, 4 Royal Albert Hall sell-outs. Tours in 14 countries from America to Australia.
Show of Hands have unequivocally become one of the leading forces in British folk. Steve Knightley and Phil Beer are respectively recognised as one of the UK’s best singer songwriters and one of its finest multi instrumentalists. Without frills or fanfares they have carved a unique niche built on a carefully constructed cottage industry and become one of the most in-demand bands on the circuit.
Now the Devon duo’s landmark new release The Long Way Home sees them returning to their musical roots, firing the ignition on a 12-track album that has “England” running through it like letters through a stick of rock. Travelling full circle to the songs and tunes that inspired them to start playing as a duo back in 1991 it revisits all the classic ingredients of traditional folk themes – songs of war, exile, invention, seafaring and loves lost and found.
The first album on their own Hands On Music label in three years unveils five new songs from the prolific pen of Steve Knightley, new twists and arrangements of quintessentially English traditional numbers and songs by collaborator Chris Hoban, a music teacher in the duo’s home town of Topsham.
Produced by Mark Tucker in Devon it gathers together a clutch of West Country guest musicians including double bassist Miranda Sykes, who has enhanced the Show of Hands sound for over a decade, BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin and fiddle singer Jackie Oates, Somerset singer songwriter Ange Hardy and Knightley’s own 13 year-old son Jack Knightley on cajon.
This is music from the heart and history of England. From the haunting to the heart-breaking, the nautical to the rural, it distils influences old and new but always with that unmistakable trademark Show of Hands sound. Perhaps the best is kept till last with Knightley’s chilling and topical closing track Mesopotamia. Steve says: “There are many songs in the folk tradition where a young girl seeks to join her true love in the cruel wars. Then, as now, fathers agonised over the paths their daughters were taking.”
The album is officially released next week on Friday, January 15, 2016 and distributed by Proper Records.