Sally Ironmonger & Brian Carter
Cheap Day Return (2012)
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Alan Rose, Tykes’ News, Spring 2016
In 2013 Grace Notes went to Broadstairs for the 7-day festival that the South-East enjoys in all its annual glory. When they returned and the enthusiastic debriefings were held, I first heard the name ‘Sally Ironmonger’ and first heard the ‘Cheap Day Return album. It opens with Sally’s self penned Mikado style icon ‘The List’, where she itemises all the people that are causing her grief, including ‘the ministers, the judges, all the lot the whole shebang, there are no merchant bankers only cockney rhyming slang’. She delivers in a style overflowing with energy and commitment, and in an estuary accent strong enough to jelly eels by, recalling the Billy Bragg of yesteryear or the Ian Drury of the year before the yesteryear. Return has 13 songs, Mike Waterson’s Stitch in Time (another Grace Notes link) and Canada-i-o (which Sally credits as Traditional; arr. Nic Jones – a damn sight more accreditation than one Bob Dylan afforded back in ’92), plus 11 of her own, ranging from reportage of ghosts, prostitutes and female secret agents to autobiographical tales of seaside days (the title track), sexual misdemeanours, guitar-obsession (more biographical of sidekick Brian Carter in fact). Then there are more well-aimed political protest songs – selling off the family silver in Cash In Hand and the decline of shipbuilding in No Ships. The aforementioned Brian Carter proves himself to be much more than a guitar collector – his playing is frankly fabulous throughout, supported with extra guitar from Shaun Murray or Brian Ridgers, while Marion Rodgers and Jim Riley contribute percussion and Ian Cutler plays fiddle in a few well selected places. While producing a full sound, the whole thing has a proudly acoustic atmosphere, implying that Sally and Brian would be more than able to do justice to this great material in a live situation.
Sally Ironmonger © 2020