JUDE EDWIN-SCOTT – Rambling Rose (Bellyhead 9 Records BH9CD09)

Rambling RoseFirst learning guitar when he was six, now based in Cheshire, alongside his career as an acrylics greeting cards artist) Edwin-Scott has developed a very English intricate fingerpicking style in the tradition of Nic Jones, heard to fine effect on Rambling Rose, his seventh self-released studio album a bringing together of two 2021s EPs), on which he also plays electric, mandolin, violin and percussion.

The title track gets it rolling, inspired by both his walks in the Cheshire countryside and the writing of Robert Macfarlane, best known for his books on landscape, nature, places and people, here ‘Underland’ in particular, the song a celebration of experiencing and exploring the enduring beauty of nature (“See you looking under every stone/To find the treasure that no one knows/You want to tell the world/Everywhere is home…Trace your hand on the sandstone wall/Make your pillow an ice waterfall/And you dream about the echoes of a time before”) and wanting “to share the music of those unsung”.

By contrast, the punchingly strummed title track from ‘Inequality Blues’ turns to the uglier side of humanity, drawing on the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme for a song written in the wake of the financial crash and Grenfell Tower tragedy, a call to stop governments, corporates and landlords putting profit before people (“Little Johnny kept his finger in the pie/He grew a hedge but it grew too high/Blocked out everybody else’s light…There’s a crook on the Old Kent Road/He asks Should we stay? or Should we go?/He profits from our fear/The seeds he sews”).

With a flurry of acoustic guitar notes, ‘Over the Banks’ is about the rush of being in love (“I’ve opened up my heart for you”) but equally speaks of the potential to shine (“Over the hills/I see you like a new world/Inside/Bursting to be free…You have everything you need/You are/The bright light in this city”), while, written following the passing of his mother-in-law, the poet Eleanor Cooke, a sadder note is struck on the plucked acoustic ‘See You In The Light’ with its lyrics of love and loss (“Put on your gramophone/Glad we’re both home/And we’re dancing/In the living room/All of my life/I thought love would last forever”) and the bittersweet “A feather in a glass/Brought by my daughter/I’ll put it in my window/To see you”, underpinning the idea of objects as portals of connection comforting those left behind.

A more sprightly number as his fingers scamper across the strings with a melody that sends you skipping down leafy lanes, the chorus friendly ‘Over The Green’ is written about the village in Tilston where, after 15 years in London, he now lives (“Dandelions growing there/In the field above the lane/Cows are rushing round/Like children in a game”) and the life of a country lad following his dreams (“I see my true love standing there/With our baby in her arms/I keep smiling to myself/I count my lucky stars”). It’s followed by the lively ‘Spinning Gold’ with its trilling notes, the first of two instrumentals, the other being the album closer, ‘Morning Blues’ which, as per the title has an English folk blues style a la Bert Jansch.

The album centrepoint is the rippling, circling fingerpicked pattern near seven-minute ‘Little Princes’, a reflection on the journeys made by refugees in search of safety and the promise of a better life (“There are diamonds on the shore/Like dew in the grass/Each one holds the sun”), while, closer to home, the loose limbed picking of ‘Green Man’ is a personal reflection on the pandemic, disillusion with Brexit and the rediscovery of what really matters and of the calming power of nature (“When the machines of the city broke/The factories stopped their big black smoke/Where the hills grow wild/And where we used to roam/When the machines of the city broke/We found our way back home”) and of the rebirth it engenders (“The concrete feels strange underfoot/You’ve been walking in grasslands, in the woods/Each tree is a beacon of hope/You’re the Green Man in the big smoke/You look up see the moon in the sky/He’s really singing about the new tide”).

The final song is ‘Tiger Tree’, inspired by walks on Bickerton Hills on the Sandstone Way, has a powerfully fingerpicked blues delivery and percussive chime to complement the lyrical force of “Bring me fire/Bring me love/Bring me an angel/Flying from above now/Walk the red path/Bracken’s high/Babe on my back/We’re gonna see the sky now”.

Chronologically, these predate last year’s Under A Mackerel Sky album with its mix of original and traditional material and running theme of journeys, and I have to confess it’s highly remiss of me not to have been aware of his music before now. If Rambling Rose also serves as your introduction, there are many pleasures and discoveries ahead.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.judeedwinscott.com

‘Rambling Rose’ – official video:

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