Any song worth its salt is worth revisiting, re-imagining and giving a new lease of life. And that is exactly what Philip Parfitt has done with this four-track ep, John Clare.
As a means of passing the song through a creative filter, each version found here matches one of the sacred days of the pre-Christian pagan festivals, each seasonal appointment leaving something of itself, a feeling, a reflection, an ancient memory, on the song as it passes through.
John Clare – Imbolc, has the required chill and misty vibes of the February morning that the name implies. A trumpet lingers and spirals in the background as simple guitar lines and hushed vocals pass through; understated, subtle and gorgeously restrained.
It is fair to say that the differences between the various versions are very subtle indeed, more a slight shift in mood than anything more obvious but these are moods that perfectly match the haunted and humble nature of the song itself. It requires careful listening but the rewards are there for those with the patience to properly take in the songs. Beltane’s springtime sees the song chime and shimmer with the warmer air, Lughnasadh is more coiled and tense and Samhain is simple and unadorned.
It is a great ep and one displaying, literally, a song for all seasons.