This January see’s Richard Kitson, one of Barnsley best loved folk and blues musicians, play a rare headline concert at The Old No7. It’s an opportunity to see a true song-writing talent in an intimate setting.
Richard ended 2013 on a high, when his successful crowd funding campaign saw his 2003 debut album released for a second time for eager fans. Originally, less than 100 copies was produced on a shoe-string budget.
Richard says of the record, ‘as a song-writer I want to look forward and develeop new ideas but there was a time when these songs were fresh… Written between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one, they represent my early years as a songwriter. These songs haven’t seen the the light of day for ten years. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoyed writing them.’
The Richard Kitson of ten years ago was a different musician to the one you’ll see performing today. The opening chords of the guitar and mouth organ on this debut self-titled album smacks of someone who has overdosed on Bob Dylan, and has maybe yet to discover the real wealth that folk music has to offer. Vocally, Kitson’s background in punk is evident, and though he’s never had what is considered to be a brilliant pop voice, but what you can hear here is the beginnings of the authentic bluesy, northern drawl we all know now. Opening track Storm in a Cloud has its title and lyrical symbolism embedded in 60s psyche, but the Richard Kitson quality song-writing and structure has already worked its way in there.
Dylan’s influence is stamped all over this record, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Desire has the title and structure of classic Americana and yet Kitson finds his own voice, and trademark wit is already showing through the trippy Beatles-esque trippy lyrics. White Rose in the Land is back to Dylan territory again, but despite that, Kitson holds his own here with a brilliantly written Yorkshire folk song.
The introduction of other instrumentation provides highlights. The bass in Girl in the Pink Room brings more warmth into already beautiful and obviously personal love song. Although not the blues master we hear today, it is the first real sign of Richard’s original voice, and easily my highlight of the album. The addition of percussion on Valentine is a great creates an entirely different sound from the rest of the tracks, but it really does take you by surprise. However, Prisoner Song is lyrically the first blues song on show here, but I’m not a fan of the harmonica on this one. I reckon all of the right ingredients are already there, without it.
The closing track, The Crying Puppeteer, has a driving blues rock vibe to it and Kitson provides his own great backing vocal which accompanies his own, often snarling lead vocal. It’s a great way to end this re-issued album.
But hey…what’s this? A bonus track.
Out of Dark Tunnels is the first track ever recorded by Richard Kitson, a whole year before these ones, way back in 2002. It has punk energy, yelled backing vocals, psychedelic lyrics and there is not a trace of Dylan here either – if you ignore the harmonica at least. In fact, it has a much more of an Alternative Folk feel to it. This track alongside Girl in the Pink Room are real highlights. What Kitson thinks of this track now is anyone’s guess, but if I was him, I’d look back on with a big smile, because it’s a good’n.
The album as a whole is a brilliant and fun look back at how a young musician taking influences from many sources and turning them into something unique, turned into a great local blues musician.
Richard Kitson plays Old No7 on Friday 24th January at 8pm. Entry is £3 and support comes from Georgina Gilmartin and The Last of the Independents.
Richard Kitson’s self-titled album is available from richardkitson.bandcamp.com