"Vale of Avalon" by Andy Beglin & The MGReview
If there were an Andy Beglin fan club, then I'd surely be a paid up member. I often muse on why artists from the past never got the recognition which they deserved, but it's most frustrating when you see someone operating right now without a profile as high as their talent. I rather make it my mission to do something about such cases..
As you know, I raved about his wonderful debut album 'Memories From The Mantelpiece' and its preceding taster singles when it came out at the start of last year & on replaying it, it continues to resonate marvellously. How it didn't pick up more attention is bizarre, but Andy is a musician who hones his craft & doesn't seek too much of the limelight. I'm really pleased to hear that he's considering playing live more in 2023 (including Napton Festival & Covtember) which will introduce his fine music to more people, though he merits a discerning audience who'll pay attention: his work is not to be wasted on those who prefer to have "stuff we know" played as a mere incidental backdrop to their own conversations.
"Vale of Avalon" is Andy's first new composition & release since the album (he only recorded it last week) and it's credited to ‘Andy Beglin & The MG' to reflect the input of Michael Gallacher on both the performance and production sides. He not only produced it but plays drums, bass & harpsichord to Andy's own vocals & guitars..
Although the title obviously references a spot traditionally located in the west of England, Andy tells me that he was going for a "west coast sound" by which I assume he means the west coast of the USA: I imagine the two are not wholly unconnected through this coincidence. While some views of such a style tend to mellow balladry, and Andy does excel at that as his album shows, "Vale of Avalon" is in fact quite a raucously sounding track, albeit acoustic for the most part, with Andy going for more of a rock based vocal than on many of his preceding solo songs: perhaps creating something of a bridge between those & his career in bands? At any rate, the west coast sound he's gone for is the harder end of the spectrum: plenty of vocal harmonies and a sense of transcendence but with the buzz of life rather than a blissed out haze. If you insist on my going for an analogy, perhaps the sort of moment which occurred for Crosby, Stills & Nash when Neil Young joined them & gave them some of his bite.
I think the very different turn that this single has taken is wise: the great merits of 'Memories From The Mantelpiece' could only be diluted & robbed of some of their value if they were followed by more in a precisely similar vein. What you get now is a glimpse into the possibilities for range, diversity & contrast in an Andy Beglin live set when such things start up again.
I do hope that it crops up on airplay lists & that word gets out. "Andy Beglin: Coventry & Warwickshire's Best Kept Musical Secret" is not as desirable as his work touching as many hearts as deserve it.