The album and illustrated book Big Sea is available to pre-order now!
With artwork by Tom Knight and a forewords by Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, Big Sea is released in hardback, saddle-stitched, and digital versions on 25th September 2020
The Rev’s new album and 32-page illustrated book is a life-affirming meditation on hope during dark times. This new collection of exuberant and eccentric songs was written during the Rev’s diagnosis, treatment and recovery from cancer and drummer James De’ath’s illness with sepsis. What resulted was an emotive celebration of the peaks and troughs of life and death told through off-kilter songs about east coast creeks, shattering storms, mystic pelicans and the Colchester martyrs. Artist Tom Knight’s illustrations and typesetting of the lyrics add further life to the album’s striking images and sentiments.
The Reverend Matt Simpkins is the fourth generation of his family to be ordained priest in the Church of England. Prior to ordination, Matt was a professional musician. He collaborated with Kenney Jones of the Small Faces to reconstruct the orchestral parts of their 1968 psychedelic masterpiece Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, and gained notoriety through his raucous and melodious exploits in FuzzFace and heavy-weight hollering in gospel fiddle duo Sons of Joy. The Reverend’s 2008 LP, Babbler & Crow, and 2009 LP, Lions were praised by the national folk and music press, and were heralded by the legendary poet-musician Martin Newell. Eleven years since the last Rev album, Matt’s unexpected illness brought with it an opportunity to make new music.
Rev Simpkins’s distinctive sound is a brew of outlandish tunefulness, string-snapping fingerpicking, and sanctified psychedelia. Shades of the Kinks, Captain Beefheart, and Pavement meld with church choirs and pipe organs, pre-war Gospel Blues, strings, brass bands, and Bert Jansch style finger-twanged guitar. Big Sea features singer-songwriter Ady Johnson, Daniel Merrill (Dead Rat Orchestra, Sons of Joy), and Toby Bull (FuzzFace) and was recorded in Cornard (Suffolk), Colchester (Essex) and Cairo (Egypt) in the spring of 2020.
The book, which is available as a hardback or a heavy-weight saddle-stitched paperback, was designed by artist and author Tom Knight. Tom, who comes from Mersea Island, is described by The Sunday Times as ‘skilled…multitalented…deserves to be better known’.
Matt Simpkins commented, ‘Once I was ordained, I assumed I’d never have an opportunity to write and record again. But when (and probably because) I got ill the songs started flowing once more until we found we had enough for an album. Big Sea is a candid and curious musical diary of that time. It’s hopeful and joyous because it takes the darkness of life seriously, so the light can be appreciated even more. It’s designed to be listened to while enjoying Tom’s wonderful illustrations.’
Big Sea is released by antigen records on 25th September 2020.