JON BUDWORTH – In Sight Of Home (FF002CD)

Jon Budworth has just released In Sight Of Home. ‘Just’ because it’s out right now and ‘only just’ because the idea for the album came in 2019 when watching a documentary on the Iolaire Disaster – the ship sank ‘in sight of home’ in Stornoway Harbour on New Year’s Day 1919, and hence the idea behind the title track. Over 200 lives were lost and Budworth’s song is yet another cracking song inspired by the heart-rending event. The arrangement is suitably deferential and includes the nice touch of spoken word from the (acted) family celebrating New Year’s Eve “There was a desolation/It was the end of the enjoyment of life”.

There are eleven tracks, good folk music one and all – pleasant tunes, clean picking, Budworth’s vocal clarity letting you hear the story, themes based on life.

The opening track is ‘Shadow Of The Chevin’. Budworth traded his native Lancashire for Otley in West Yorkshire in 2017. For those who’ve never been The Chevin is the nearly 1,000-foot hill which dominates the town, a modern site for recreation and part of an old Roman road from York to Ilkley. It’s the kind of place that should have folk songs written about it and you can hear Budworth’s approach and playing style in the video below from Otley Festival a couple of years ago.

‘Ghost Of A Girl’ is another track with a local link, written after Budworth, on a damp February afternoon, discovered a ghostly statue of Alice in Wonderland in a garden behind York Minster. ‘All Is Quiet’ has an alluring tune and arrangement. It was inspired by a walk round Otley – usually a busy market town – in the first lockdown. Budworth’s vocal is doubled with an equally lovely female vocal (the track listing doesn’t specify who – but Edwina Hayes is name-checked for ‘In Sight Of Home’ and Mags Elliot is on the video below for ‘Shadow Of The Chevin’).

Other tracks deal with everyday life. ‘In This Moment’ is about finding a moment of peace and tranquillity, cheery jangly guitar at the beginning to reinforce that “In this moment, everything is all right”. ‘I Don‘t Need Tomorrow’ has some neat acoustic fretwork before the band kicks in on a track about not looking forward to the following day – what I used to know as the Sunday-evening-feeling.  ‘December’ calls to mind 1966/67 folk rock arrangements, the emphasis being on the folk half of that description. ‘Flatlining’ bounces along to what Budworth sums up as first-world-problems (too many e-mails etc).

The album closes with the thoughtful ‘Holyhead’ contrasting a homeless girl with the “opulent cruise ships in the harbour” of the town; similarly an old man standing by the harbour wall contrasts the town he used to know with new town full of strangers coming from the sea as “the ferries come and the ferries goall that remains of any industry”.

‘Holyhead’ was inspired by a visit to the town and people and events that Budworth saw when he visited. It nicely rounds off an album of folk songs of modern life, adorned in places with a band (in reality a mixture of Budworth himself and some local musicians) and played with no little skill.

No gigs appear on Budworth’s website, but there is a testimonial, “From a folk club organisers point of view; Budworth is the perfect package – not only a very competent and entertaining performer but a professional attitude and approach to the performance”.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:

‘Shadow Of The Chevin’ – live:

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