With the country deep in recession and austerity cuts hitting the poorest in our society, where are the artistic responses? Where are the protest singers? ‘Greedy Magicians’, singer-songwriter Matt Hill aka Quiet Loner’s third album, is such a response – a collection of contemporary protest songs seething with disgust and shot through with melancholy at the state of our coalition-led nation. It’s an album which responds both personally and politically, reflecting on recent events and rewriting them as chapters in a long and historic struggle of the many against the few. Rejecting the securities of a conventional recording studio, Hill instead recorded in an 18th century church in Salford, an area steeped in radicalism. Over a single evening in May 2012, Hill turned the recording process itself into a sixties style ‘happening’. Lit only by candles and fairy lights with around 100 people present to witness it, Hill and his fellow musicians (with members of Samson & Delilah and Last Harbour) recorded the songs totally live in single takes. These are songs of politics and protest. ‘Kneel and Comply’ is a satire on the excessive policing of protest and dissent and ‘The Captain’s Diseased’ a sea-shanty that casts David Cameron as a deranged syphilitic sea captain throwing the sick and disabled overboard. There are personal songs too. ‘The Ghost of Oswald Mosley’ laments the rise of the far right in the former coalfield communities where Hill grew up and ‘Unmarked grave’ is an anti-war song, a soldier’s tale inspired by letters recently discovered by Hill that were sent back from the Somme to his great-grandmother. Hill was determined to capture more than just music on this record so efforts were made to create a sense of occasion and atmosphere. During the session, 100 badges were handed out, each bearing a different name of 50 men and 50 women of history who had taken a stand. The instruments played came with their own histories – the mandolin from 1898, the guitar made from a Memphis dancefloor, the double bass rescued from a school caretaker’s skip. Even the album sleeves are handprinted using 19th century machines, the techniques used to print radical pamphlets now deployed to produce a 21st century form of protest.