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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Word play and music

As a member of Squeeze, Chris Difford co-wrote some of the best-loved songs of the past 30 years. The band had six top 20 singles, including Cool For Cats and Up the Junction, which both reached number two in 1979.

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Partners in rhyme: Boo Hewerdine and, inset, Chris Difford

Difford’s words and Glenn Tilbrook’s music made a delicious cocktail and now Difford has a new writing partner who will be joining him on stage in Cumbria next week: Boo Hewerdine.

Hewerdine is an acclaimed performer and songwriter who has written for dozens of artists and has a loyal local following for his live shows, such as Brampton Live.

The pair play at the Masonic Hall Kirkby Stephen next Tuesday and at the William Howard Centre, Brampton, next Friday as part of a tour promoting Difford’s new album, The Last Temptation of Chris.

This is Difford’s second solo album. He worked on the first, I Didn't Get Where I Am, with Cumbria’s former It Bites star Francis Dunnery. Six years on, Difford found another craftsman to enhance his lyrics.

“Thankfully I met Boo and he guided me. He writes such beautiful melodies. He used to come to my house every day with a different batch of melodies, and before we knew where we were we had an album. Most of these songs were done very spontaneously and when we got to record them the tracks captured that too.

“I think the songs are pretty honest. I don’t think you really want to hide anything because there are a lot of people out there who can see some kind of relevance in the lyrics and a reflection of their own lives. If you go back through the Squeeze albums you’ll see the same kind of thing, it was a reflection of where we were.”

The Last Temptation of Chris was produced and co-written by Hewerdine, who also came up with the album’s title. Hewerdine mastered this type of wordplay during the 1980s while with his former band The Bible. He recalls: “We were supporting China Crisis and we turned up at the venue one day and a letter had fallen off the sign. They had become ‘Chin Crisis’. We sat in the back of a van for the next three years playing that game. Nobody will ever top the all-time winner ‘The Grateful Dad’. It became like a tic and I called on it again when we were finishing the album.”

They wrote it last year at Difford’s home in Brighton. Hewerdine says: “He’d present me with lyrics and I’d write the melodies. With lyrics as good as Chris’s it’s incredibly inspiring. We sometimes got four or five songs a day.”

Hewerdine has released six solo albums and his songs have been recorded by a huge range of artists including kd Lang, Paul Young, Natalie Imbruglia, Mel C, Marti Pellow and David McAlmont. His song Patience of Angels – a hit for Eddi Reader – was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award.

Hewerdine has recorded a new six-track acoustic mini album called Toy Box No. 1 and a full-length album will follow in September.

He regularly tours both solo and with other artists and has performed in Cumbria many times. Even when he’s not touring or recording, music is never far from Hewerdine’s life. “I do something with music every day; writing or playing. You kind of have to if you’re a musician, artistically and commercially. It wasn’t until I had my first child that I thought ‘I really need to work hard at this’. Thankfully I love doing it.”

Tickets £15/£14 for the Brampton gig, available from www.carlislefolk.org.uk or by calling 01228 515061. For Kirkby Stephen tickets call 017683 72123.

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