JENN & LAURA-BETH – Bound (JBLB Records JBLB01)

BoundJenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter have worked as a duo for eight years but Bound is their first album as a duo. The reason for this is simple; they have been far too busy. Jenn has worked with Anna Massie and the Rachel Hair Trio and most recently as a member of the collective that produced Songs Of Separation. Laura-Beth is a founding member of The Shee and has played alongside Frigg and Shooglenifty.

Bound is a mixture of Jenn’s Scottish roots and Laura-Beth’s fondness for Americana. With just two voices, guitar and mandolin, the album was recorded as live and the dynamism of their playing leaps off the plastic.  I don’t believe that ‘If I Had A Lover’ sounds anything like the way Bert Jansch envisaged it now it’s mixed with Jenn’s tune ‘The Belle Of The Ball’ but it’s great. Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Wings On My Heels’ was taken up by Eddi Reader and it wasn’t one of my favourites. Jenn and Laura-Beth make it much more country with their harmonies and I feel rather better about this reading of it. ‘The Great Divide’ by the late Kate Wolf is a lovely song by a relatively unknown writer.

Laura-Beth’s song, ‘The Braver One’, should be widely heard. Its theme is that it takes a brave person to go against the tide of popular opinion and not join the rabble even though you might sort-of agree with their viewpoint. It’s a complex idea and Laura-Beth expresses it so much better than I could. Then we have the instrumental sets. Their pairing of two originals, ‘1,2,3,4’ and ‘Joseph Salter’s’ sees them trade lead and accompaniment between guitar and mandolin, a trick they use quite often although ‘Apple At The Crossroads/Elzwick’s Farewell’ is really Laura-Beth’s chance to show off.

As a debut, Bound has been a long time coming; let’s hope we don’t have to wait so long for the follow-up.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.jennandlb.com/

‘The Great Divide’ live:

Jenn & Laura-Beth announce debut album, Bound

Jenn & Laura-Beth

Jenn Butterworth (guitar and voice) and Laura-Beth Salter (mandolin and voice) have each been a presence on the UK folk scene for a number of years. They were brought together by the close-knit and progressive Glasgow folk music community, spending lots of their time jamming an eclectic mix of folk music from across the globe, particularly the UK, Scandinavia and America. The years of playing together brought a deep affinity between the two artists; their rhythms lock tightly, their voices blend so closely that it’s often hard to tell them apart. They have developed a natural telepathy: two musicians bound together.

Their debut release Bound is a celebration of the last eight years of the duo. It contains some old favourites, such as ‘Come To Jesus’ and ‘Elzwick’s’, and newer arrangements created for the album such as ‘The Braver One’ and ‘Let the Sun Shine Down On Me’. Arranged entirely by the duo, the album contains some self-penned work, some re-invention of older tunes and songs, and some more recent covers, such as Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Wings On My Heels’. When Jenn and Laura-Beth set out to record this album, they felt it was important to keep things simple. They wanted capture the raw energy of their live gigs and wanted the recording to feel natural. The way they play on the album is the way they play live; for the most part the tracks were recorded either live in the same room, or facing each other through a glass door. The album was recorded at Carrier Waves Studios in Glasgow, engineered by Keir Long and mastered at Castlesound Studios in Pencaitland.

“Our brand new debut album, Bound, is a representation of the last eight fantastic years of playing together. A snapshot of where we have come from and where we are now. We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we have enjoyed playing and recording it.” Jenn & Laura-Beth

Laura-Beth is a founding member of renowned folk band, The Shee, and has also toured extensively with bands such as Frigg, Shooglenifty and Dougie MacLean’s The MacLean Project. In 2013 she was nominated for the MG Alba Scots Trad Awards Composer of the Year award after the success of her Celtic Connections commission and debut album, Breathe.

Jenn Butterworth is one of the UK’s foremost folk guitarists. She began her career touring worldwide with award winning Anna Massie Band, and has gone on to perform with well regarded acts such as Fiddlers’ Bid, Phil Cunningham and the highly acclaimed Songs of Separation.

Artists’ website: www.jennandlb.com

‘The Scottish Situation’: