RALPH McTell is well into his sixth decade as a recording artist.

Kent born, Croydon raised, the much travelled, unassuming, 74-year-old musical legend, continues on a course that has always served him well, one that steers him to Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre on Thursday, September 26.

Ralph has a new album out on Friday, September 20, Hill Of Beans, a work of pure grace laced with harmonic and melodic riches.

The album reunites Ralph with Tony Visconti, one of the music world's mightiest and most important producers who was there right at the start of the virtuoso guitarist and singer-songwriter's recording career, providing arrangements on the Gus Dudgeon produced debut Eight Frames A Second in 1968.

Mr V - who was at the studio helm for many David Bowie albums and several by Marc Bolan - returned in 1972 to produce Ralph's landmark fifth album Not Till Tomorrow and the pair worked together on records with Tom Paxton and Mary Hopkin. Those formative lessons had helped set the scene for their diverse respective careers. The latter day reconnection came when Tony Visconti sent Ralph an email, after a chance meeting on London’s Marylebone Road earlier this decade. "It was just lovely to say hi,” reflects Ralph. "One day I'm at home and the email arrived. It was such a great email to get. It said, "Dear Ralph, I'm working with that old reprobate, you remember him?”

Tony was referring to David Bowie, a figure who looms as large in the legendary producer's career as the song Streets Of London does in Ralph's. "He said, 'I just found a copy of our album in a second hand shop and I'm listening to us in glorious low-fi on the train into New York.' I thought, how sweet because I always thought that Not Till Tomorrow was probably the album I had wanted to make in the first instance - not the kind of slightly syrupy version of the first album."

That first album was nonetheless successful enough to call for a follow up, Spiral Staircase (1969), where Streets of London first appeared. Released 50 years ago, the song has become a rallying cry against homelessness, touching lives across the world. Timelessly relevant, delicately balanced between melodic beauty and cold hard truth, Streets, covered at last count 212 times, became a hit single. Kept off the top spot, first by Status Quo's Down Down and then Mud's Lonely This Christmas, in 1974, it hit the Christmas number one in 2017 on a new version Ralph recorded with Annie Lennox and The Crisis Choir.

"To say that it was a bit of a phenomenon is an understatement," Ralph recalls. "Without me knowing, everyone knew this song by 1968 or 69 because it'd been sung in folk bars."

The song's success propelled Ralph into the big time.

Family plays a big part in his musical makeup, deeply embedded in potent and poignant Hill Of Beans offerings The Shed, mediating on his uncle’s sanctuary of maleness, and Brighton Belle, driven by the real life experience of both his grandfather and war veteran Father (who left the family home in childhood).

It has been an eventful life and career: a hitch hiking ride to the coast with Rod, then known as Mod Stewart, a slot on the Isle of Wight Festival alongside Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, a crap game with Tom Waits in LA, an Ivor Novello and numerous folk awards. A singular figure, Ralph continued to play Belfast while most avoided the city during the troubles, became a successful radio presenter, had an easy and lucrative day's work composing a lager advert, followed in the footsteps of key early influence Woody Guthrie when he originated two sets of children songs for TV.

En route he maintained often collaborative friendships with contemporaries such as Fairport Convention, the spur for Hill Of Beans tune Clear Water, and the late Bert Jansch and produced a now extensive extended family with wife of more than 50 years, Nanna Stein.

With Hill Of Beans, Tony Visconti’s production has allowed Ralph to find the measure of songs gathered from the past 10 years but including one written in 1978, another in 1988. "All the time if I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. I've got bits of ideas jotted down on computers here and there. I'm self-motivated. And that sometimes means there's a five or six year gap between albums because I'm not happy with what I've got," he explains. Nothing was originally written for or with Tony Visconti - who plays fretless bass and recorders on the album - in mind, but the effect of working with an old acquaintance proved sustaining and affirming. "Tony is a wonderful producer, he treats all his artists with the same consideration, courtesy and respect. In some cases he has to nurse you, other times he has to be firm with you, he may push an idea in a direction you're not sure about, but he's got this lovely mixture of authority, pure class, fantastic track record and an empathy with all the people he works with."

Brewery box office 01539-725133.