Hand On My Heart

Simon Kempston

Self-Portrait Records

THIS year has been a disaster for jobbing musicians. The closure of live venues has meant, for many, a catastrophic drop in income and exposure.

The gifted, Edinburgh-based acoustic guitarist and singer Simon Kempston has suffered the cancellation of some 80 concerts – which, coming on the back of a 2019 that he refers to as “the most amazing and unbelievable year of my career to date”, which included a debut tour of New Zealand, was a bitter blow indeed. But he has refused to take it lying down, as evidenced by the arrival of his latest album.

Collaborating with his long-term studio partner, Ian McCalman, he laid down the 12 tracks in the space of a single afternoon. “No overdubs, no drop-ins”, as Kempston writes in his sleeve notes.

It’s possibly his strongest album yet (check out the title track, available on YouTube); other highlights are No More Evil, and The End of It All, with its delicately lovely guitar work.

Also worth looking out for are two recent instrumental albums, Onwards She Travels and In Gratitude of Solitude. Kempston is one of those artists who, pandemic or not, deserve more exposure.

Russell Leadbetter