A constant throughout his work is his ability to root his songs in geographical place, notably the West Country where he still lives.
Informed by a love of traditional folk song, Knightley writes historically accurate songs that resonate with contemporary meaning. He has an extraordinary ability to conflate time and space to bring the past vividly, smack bang into the present. It’s an ability that fuels his reputation as an ‘issues’ writer. The seminal ‘Country Life’ earned him the title ‘The gravel voiced spokesman of the rural poor’ and a nomination for best song at the 2004 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
His anti-banking rant ‘Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed’ picked up the gong for ‘Best Song’ at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Knightley does not see himself as above or apart from those who come to see him play.
“Out there, there are more tales of bravery and perseverance than most singer- songwriters can muster up in a lifetime.”
This awareness underpins Knightley’s drive to involve the audience in his work, whether it’s voting for tracks to appear on albums, or putting on a gig: Knightley’s un- ending ‘grow your own gig’ tour that began in 2014 enables anyone to put on a Steve Knightley gig in their local village or town hall. Following the business model he set
up with Show of Hands, this is at no financial risk to anyone but himself.
He also invites feedback on songs and getting everyone to sing along is for him an integral part of the show. Knightley’s respect for his audience fuels his continual dedication both to delivering his best and fostering a warm embracing sense of community. It is this respect that’s a conduit for Knightley’s connection with the
crowd, wherever or whatever the gig.