As Forrester sings “I need to work for me and not for them” on New Season, you quickly get to the heart of this album, though the title itself is a pretty good guide in itself. The life of being a musician fits a certain type of person, someone who prefers to dictate their own path, who likes the transient nature of such a career, the life of moving town to town, country to country to share your creativity before moving on again. But it is an album which balances such a life choice against the tension of being pulled back into old lives and situations beyond your control, of being tethered, perhaps for the most worthy of reasons, but tethered none-the-less.
Opening a cappella gem Richmond Hill is a brave starting point musically but also sets out the reflective nature of what is to follow. And what follows is a spacious collection of songs which fits largely into the English folk tradition. Escaping A Storm is both wonderfully rhythmic and gloriously gentle and This Idea Flies merges folk, balladic pop and classical tones. And when he does push off of the beaten track the results are just as wonderful. Trouble takes on a lulling gypsy waltz vibe and The Black Ship plays with sea shanty drama to great effect.
It is a very accomplished album, one that contains brilliant and memorable songs but ones built from only the most necessary of music. Editing is everything and it seems that here John Forrester has done a masterful job of deciding what each song relies on and removing anything that was surplus to requirement. That in itself is an art, one that many musicians could do with honing.
Restless is a glorious set of songs, its as simple as that. It links 60’s folk revivalism with the most contemporary end of the genre, it takes in both past tradition and future folk horizons, it is personal and reflective but also in a more general sense totally relatable, it is gentle yet filled with poignancy. In fact it is very much all things to everyone, well all things to discerning folk fans at least, and you can’t say that about many albums at the moment.