Gordon Giltrap & Paul Ward - The Last Of England album review

A soundtrack for days past.

Gordon Giltrap & Paul Ward - The Last Of England album artwork

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Gordon Giltrap has come a long way since his break-out hit Heartsong in 1978.

If the wider British public fondly remember it as the theme music for BBC’s Holiday programme, Giltrap is nothing if not a man of parts. Part of the Jansch and Renbourne set, and an influence on Steve Rothery and Ritchie Blackmore, Giltrap remains one of the supreme folk guitar stylists of any era. This collaboration with keys meister Paul Ward brings out the best of both men: The Last Of England is grounded by Ward’s vast cinematic keyboard sweeps (redolent of his film and TV work), while Giltrap’s intricate finger-picking is pure English shires on a summer’s day. Indeed, several of the tunes, including the title track, might be lifted from a film score about the Pre-Raphaelite painters whose work inspires much of this album. Meditative ballads like This Father’s Love and the gloriously hymn-like The Anna Fantastic showcase Giltrap at his best: unhurried, intricate and with an astute ear for melody. This is music for meditating failed loves and spent youth. It is a beautiful lament for a lost England that never was. By turns painterly and rich in sound, you’ll want to listen again and again.