Patty Vetta and Alan Franks’s fourth album, Bird in Flames, contains two of Franks’s most ambitious story-telling songs: As I Walked Out, which revisits the life of Brendan Macreadie, a popular item from their first album; and the title track Bird In Flames, relating tells a passionate, enigmatic tale of betrayal in wartime France.
While the first of these shows Franks’s debt to the English narrative ballad, the second has strong echoes of the French chanson style.
The twelve-song collection finds him in rare collaboration with a lyricist – in this case the Cumbrian poet Ross Baxter, who wrote the words of the opening track Don’t Know What To Do.
Another rarity is a guest appearance, on Sentimental Songs, by the celebrated English country singer Reg Meuross.
Also featured on the album is the playing of multi-instrumentalist and composer Graham Preskett, who has worked with such artists as Paul McCartney, Cher and Tom Jones, and whose playing can be heard on the soundtrack of the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
Love ballads are represented by the haunting Heart Do The Talking and When I Return To You; comedy by Worm Tango – see the video above – and How Can I Be A Has-Been, also on video here. For the shanty-influenced Ship of our Affair, a small choir was assembled, including Patty, Alan, Ross Baxter, Katherine Baxter, Amy Franks, Emily Maguire and Pat Turner.
For its release on iTunes, a bonus track has been added – Martin in the Mitre – also see video below. This track has proven a hit with audiences around the country over many years.
Musicians: Vocals: Patty Vetta; guitar and vocals, Alan Franks; bass and lead guitar, Tony Harris; double bass, accordion and keyboards, Steve Reynolds; fiddle and mandolin, Graham Preskett; sax and clarinet, Al Stewart; vocals and guitar, Reg Meuross; accordion, Pete Cunningham; banjo, Kenny Baker.
The album was recorded entirely in the Cambridgeshire studio run by Patty and her husband Tony Harris.