Marking tributes to legend is a rare occurrence in music. These are the projects destined to die a death as it did for the likes of Paul McCartney when tribute was paid to Ian Dury. Though Brand New Boots and Panties may be all forgotten now, their impact on the people who hoped to immortalise a legend is not, nor is the experience for them. Much can be said of Michael Chapman and his legendary instrumentations, how he formed a genre which is booming once more. Why say it when a collection of artists he so clearly inspired can come together and tune themselves for a piece remembering the man himself? Imaginational Anthem Volume XIII: I Thought I Told You – A Yorkshire Tribute to Michael Chapman may be a mouthful, but it strikes through – its story-like atmosphere a real thrill.
Make no mistake in identifying the cosy nature of Imaginational Anthem Volume XIII. There is a sweet spot to the autumnal feel these artists now represent, tucked away in a mould-ridden flat, supping on out-of-date Tassimo pods with the heating whacked on. Crucial to this release is the formation of tracks. Parker opens up with a crisp rendition of In the Valley – a bold and loud experience which cements him as an all-time great instrumentalist as well as vocalist. Speaking of those former instrumentals, the lush and flowing Caddo Lake from Dean McPhee follows and sets the mood so well you could sink into it, feel the crisp air and the calmness of it all.
Further sweetness and warmth flow through the whole record, a remarkable achievement of consistency in collaboration. You Say from Katie Spencer and the follow-up from Bobby Lee with Heat Index is a duo of exceptional songs. Their experience is played out in tribute to a dearly missed artist – and the dedication these musicians bring to their influential brother-in-arms is touching. March Rain brings on the delicacies of folk – the chilling complexities which spring from just the acoustic guitar and vocals of Holly Blackshaw. Do not think Imaginational Anthem Volume XII is resting on calm laurels though, the bass-infused sonic blast from Andrew DR Abbott on (Some) Trains is a wakeup call and a nice reminder of an LNER train tucked away on the album cover.
Folk into country is the shift Abbot hopes to create – and he succeeds exceptionally well. Key to these workings is how they flow into one another. Kodak Ghosts from Hawthorn marks a calmer period to follow from the impressive ruminations of Abbott. It is a pairing which guides Imaginational Anthem Volume XIII through tricky waters. Collaborative efforts are no doubt pushed and pulled into the form they eventually take, but the result of this project feels rather close to how it was envisaged. A tribute to a great guitarist who would surely love the final featured songs. Eight bits and pieces, rounded out delicately and coolly by Chris Brain with Among the Trees. An exceptional collection of artists coming together to pay tribute to an influence is a gift of an experience when pulled off so well.