Ashley Hutchings has always had a reputation as an organiser, from putting together the first line-up of Fairport Convention, to arranging the staggering 70-some musicians who have played over the years in the Albion Band.
Originally released in 2008, My Land Is Your Land features 32 contributors and is a concept album of sorts, consisting of Hutchings and Pascale’s musical and lyrical snapshots of the idiosyncracies and overlap of Italian and English culture over different time scales. Due to Pascale’s death in 2011 and the nostalgic tack of many of the lyrics, the album often strikes an elegiac mood. The very first lines of the achingly lovely A Patch Of Land, ‘A patch of earth is all I crave/To make a home and then a grave’, are a case in point. They are sung by Ken Nichol of the Albion Band, initially to dolorous violas, with a string section coming in to support the entrance of Marian Trappassi’s vocals. Another string arrangement accompanies a spoken word piece The Call Of Yesterday, Pascale’s recollection of learning English from pop records in the early 60s. Describing the same era on New Italian Shoes, Mark Hutchinson is out on a date, dressed smartly, cigarettes in a case and appropriately shod in a song which observes a scene and beautifully captures its mood. The Lion Of Highbury, an account of a football match played between England and Italy in 1934, sung as if a report of an armed skirmish, is just a tad clunky but charming nonetheless, whereas Family Ties and You Are What You Eat are more pithy explorations of cultural differences. As is Come And Buy/Street Sellers Dance. It’s an electric English dance tune with Vin Garbutt and Pascale as vendors, calling out, extolling the virtue of their hot potatoes and the rather more tempting straciattella.