Eric Bogle with John Munroe,
A Toss of the Coin
(Greentrax, 2013)

Eric Bogle songs combine the latest news with the poignant reality of life, and cannot fail to stir the emotions. He opens this album -- which is unusual in comparison to a lot of his recent work, in that he sings songs penned by others -- with a lovely story-song relating to the fire of February 2009 in Victoria, where 173 people lost their lives. The dedication is to the Strathewen fire brigade on a song called "Ashes."

"Song for James" refers to a young Irish chap who was killed when hit by a truck. The story of how his father cherishes his memory is sad, uplifting and humbling.

The Great War is seldom forgotten, and on this CD Bogle adds his music and singing talent to another man's lyrics. "In Flanders Fields" uses a poem by John MacRae.

On "Home is the Hero," he recalls the promises made to the heroes of the Great War who were then ignored, and he relates them to the heroes of ongoing conflicts. His refrain is that, while the glorious dead are given some fleeting honour, the maimed get very little.

He comes right up to date and reprises a theme first noted on One Small Star on the sad and haunting "Roll Call." This names the victims of Sandy Hook in a stark song about the reality of the freedom to bear arms.

This is modern history, warts and all, set to music and performed with heart.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

27 April 2013

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