night hoursNight Hours is the second album from Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith and I must confess that I have been shockingly remiss in catching up with them. This is a remarkably powerful record, solid in the sense of being unmoving in the face of opposition which, sadly, is something that the protagonists in some of these songs were unable to do. The mix of material is the sort that we used to take for granted: some traditional, some covers, some original songs which still manages to address modern concerns whatever the vintage of the material.

The record opens with a few seconds of field recording made at night in Bristol which leads into the title track, a meditation on the thousands of night workers who keep our world working but remain unseen and anonymous. From there Jimmy and Sid move on to the dispossessed and the migrants with Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Harvest Gypsies’, a song about the farm workers who fled from the dustbowls in 1930’s America, their exodus forced by the loss of their land after years of monoculture.

‘The Ballad Of Yorkley Court’ updates the story of the Diggers. In this case the people who wanted to establish sustainable farming on derelict land were harassed, bullied and finally defeated by the law which is in the hands of “them” not “us”. Banjo Paterson’s ‘Along The Castlereagh’ proves that the story is by no means a new one. ‘Moved On’ transfers a similar battle to an urban environment where the fight is for social housing. Lest you think that Jimmy and Sid are rebels for every cause, Sid’s updating of ‘The Grazier Tribe’ points out the danger of permitting nothing to change.

The basic instrumentation is banjo, fiddle, guitar and concertina but “basic” is too crude a word. Dominic Henderson’s uilleann pipes and whistles provide some stunning contrasts, particularly on ‘Bonny Bunch Of Roses’. Jimmy and Sid don’t rush anything – there seems to be a feeling about that audiences can’t cope with long ballads any more – and give both the stories and their musical development all the time they need.

Night Hours has to be one of the best albums of the year – I hope it will be fresh in the mind when the awards come around.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the JIMMY ALDRIDGE & SID GOLDSMITH – Night Hours link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.


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

‘Night Hours’ – official video: