JACK SHARP – Good Times Older (From Here Records SITW015CD)

Good Times OlderAny album from the From Here stable is worth a hearing and Good Times Older is no exception. Jack Sharp has spent thirteen years as front man of psych-rock band Wolf People so you might well ask what he’s doing releasing a solo album of mostly traditional songs. The answer is “a damn good job”.

The first thing you notice is Jack’s guitar style. The best description is robust – not strident but forceful. He doesn’t really need any support but accepts harmony vocals from Nicola Kearey, strings from Edwin Ireland and concertina from Laura Smyth with producer Ian Carter playing second guitar on one track. So, the second thing you notice is the distinctive economic production style that characterises Stick In The Wheel’s work.

The title track, which opens the set, is a version of ‘The Good Old Days Of Adam And Eve’ taken from a newspaper in Jack’s home county of Bedfordshire and much changed. You’ll find a very different song from Vermont if you look it up on-line but Jack’s lyrics are also about changing times. ‘Maid’s Lament’ was collected by Fred Hamer, again in Bedfordshire, and is not the song you’ll find easily on line. That’s two up to Jack.

‘Soldier Song’ has the sound and feel of a traditional ballad but it’s one of Jack’s own. It’s the not unfamiliar story of PTSD but in this case the sufferer would appear to be female, some of the words seem to be deliberately deceptive. ‘Gamekeeper’ is a familiar song with an unfamiliar tune that Jack found. It’s a splendid tune, too – three up, I reckon. I wasn’t expecting to find Robin Williamson’s ‘God Dog’ on an album like this but here it is, fitting in perfectly.

We’re in straightforward traditional territory now. ‘Lacemaker’ is a tell, ‘White Hare’ is an animal that turns up everywhere, ‘Jug Of This’ is, as Jack says, a super depressing drinking song and ‘Northamptonshire Poacher’ has strayed across the county boundary. ‘Treecreeper’ is another of Jack’s own songs proving that inspiration can strike anywhere. It starts off being about the bird and goes somewhere else entirely. Finally, we have ‘May Morning Dew’ which Jack first heard sung by Peta Webb. This is the second new version I’ve heard within a month – it could be a trend.

Did I say that Jack has done a damn good job with Good Times Older? I can enthusiastically recommend it.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: https://jacksharp.lnk.to/goodtimesolder


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