OTLEY’S former MP has produced his first album with his band Summercross.

My Northern Heart features 12 songs all written by Greg Mulholland, who was the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West for 12 years until June, 2017.

The album, produced after a successful crowdfunding campaign, is packed with references to local and national issues.

The loss of hire boats on the River Wharfe at Otley and the - eventually successful - campaign to bring them back is covered in No Boats on the River.

Key track Irish Fields recalls the plight of Irish families fleeing from the Great Famine (or Great Hunger) of the mid 19th Century and finding a warm welcome, thanks to the efforts of humanitarian Thomas Constable and his sister Mary, in Otley.

In the album’s extensive liner notes, Greg explains: “The song is sung from the perspective of a parent of a family that has set out from Kiltimagh/Ballina in Mayo, having been driven out of their home, trying to get to Otley: knowing that, like so many others fleeing this humanitarian disaster, they might die on the way.”

Other songs tackle everything from a navvies uprising during the construction of Bramhope Tunnel (The Wescoe Hill Riot) to the struggle, which Greg pursued as an MP, to protect the country’s struggling community pubs (Together This Fine Day, Last of England).

The Angels Will Take You Back Home is another heartfelt number in an album that is proud to wear its heart - like its title - on its sleeve.

It describes how the suicide of Big Country frontman Stuart Adamson, in 2001, deeply affected Greg as a fan and a person.

The last verse, which gives a nod to several of the Scottish rock star’s lyrics, says:

“A local hero, never just a shadow,

Your heart was as big as a mountain

And your name will not die, as we sing ‘stay alive’

And you’re still in our hearts and souls.”

Greg is accompanied on the album by fellow Summercross members Jim Caswell on guitars, Mary Huby on violin/fiddle, Nic Shipp on drums and keyboards, Annie Raynor on flute and whistle and Dave McKendrick on bass guitar.

Guest musicians, including mandolin player John Jenner and Dave Smith on banjo, also contribute to a collection which features a mixture of heartfelt ballads and more uptempo, rousing songs.

Most tracks boast traditional acoustic folk instruments while a few, including the title track, also reveal some Celtic rock influences and soaring electric guitar lines. The result, with Greg’s gentle voice well suited to the material, is an emotional body of work that you can imagine going down especially well at the local pub - or at a folk festival.

Set to be released in the next few weeks, My Northern Heart will be available from www.summercross.uk and from Browns Gallery, Otley.