COBBY & LITTEN take on BOOTHFERRY
Kingston-upon-Hull residents Russ Litten and Steve Cobby have been on what we call a “roll” since merging their talents as a one-off a couple of years back. For those who don’t know them, Russ is a novelist, poet, teacher, organizer and all-round sage; Steve is a musician, with decades of credibility behind him from his work as half of Fila Brazilia and co-owner of Pork Recordings. Together, Cobby & Litten are exactly what you would hope for: proper stand-up poetry set to proper down-tempo grooves.
Boothferry is the name of a village outside Hull, but as Boothferry Park it was also the home to the city’s football team until they moved into the KC Stadium. “Boothferry” the album, easily the duo’s strongest work to date, is very much rooted in the working class life of the East Riding, though if you put aside Litten’s local accent, tracks like “(Not Another) Urban Mystic” – which, according to Litten’s unpublished sleeve notes, “started off as an imagined conversation between a Dad and his daughter’s new boyfriend and sort of veered off into a reverie about wasted winter mornings on the dole in various flats and shared gaffs, smoking too much herb and ruminating on inner space” – are relatively universal, at least in the UK. And for those who take the time to listen, “Tak Promin” (Czech for “I am so sorry”) is a totally true story. It’s a good ‘un.
As a major bonus, “Boothferry” tacks on the duo’s previous EP, “RIME,” which was commissioned for John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux Festival, part of the whole Hull as Euro City of Culture thing that has graced the great north-eastern metropolis and surrounding area through 2017. Per the “Boothferry” vinyl (oddly these words are not included on the CD), “RIME is a four part musical narrative inspired by the Triple Trawler Tragedy of 1969 that saw 58 fishermen from Hull lose their lives in treacherous conditions in Arctic waters.” Knowing as much makes that more sense of the lyrics, and especially the long, emotional gospel finale, “Home.”
I recommend picking up “Boothferry” on CD or vinyl – it just sounds better that way – but if you choose to go the Bandcamp route (per the link below), you’ll get a couple of bonus cuts into the bargain. At £6 (or US equivalent), you’re getting a steal. Skip a pint this week (or two pints if you frequent Nelly’s in Beverley) and support your musical artisans. Cheers.