Late 1993 was the winter of Clive Gregson’s discontent. The folk-steeped British singer-songwriter was living in Minneapolis and suffering from a major case of cabin fever.
“At that time, it was probably the worst winter there in 20 years,” Gregson said recently from his new home in Nashville, “but then all their winters are bad. I really didn’t get out much that winter and stayed in an awful lot and wrote a lot of songs.”
Those songs of isolation, tension and boredom make up the bulk of “People & Places,” Gregson’s first solo album in 10 years (on Compass Records). Tying all the introspective songs together is an image of a man rediscovering his roots and his culture. Gregson calls it a “very English record.”
“I felt very different in Minneapolis in many ways,” he said, “and so the record is a reflection of the way I was feeling, a slight element of not homesickness but just feeling different in my surroundings. And it brought out some of the factors in my life up to that point of leaving England.”
Gregson said he has adapted to living in the states, but England is always in his heart.
“I don’t particularly miss the place as such,” he said. “I miss the culture in many ways. I miss good quality TV, I miss good quality talk shows and radio and different kinds of radio and newspapers. The list is endless and that part was hard to come to grips with.”
The lilting “People & Places” is Gregson’s first release since 1992 when he and Christine Collister, collectively known as the critically acclaimed duo Gregson & Collister, parted company.
“It was a weird separation in the sense that I was quite happy to carry on,” Gregson said. “I felt the duo hadn’t achieved everything it could musically. Commercially, we were always on the up from day one. It never slackened off. Chris decided she had enough and wanted to do something different.”
Gregson didn’t lick his wounds for long. He did a few shows, which at first were nerve-wracking for him. Then he grew more comfortable with it and eventually thought about making a record. In a way, Gregson admits, Collister did him a favor.
“I have to say in many ways I’m much, much happier. It was very liberating. Particularly for playing shows. It took me a while to get used to it, but now I feel these are the best shows I’ve ever done.”
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