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JINNWOO – Dreamcreatures (Square Leg Records)

DreamcreaturesBen “Jinnwoo” Webb has been building a reputation over recent years both as a soloist and as a member of Bird In The Belly and Green Ribbons. Lockdown didn’t help and robbed me of the opportunity to hear the latter group on stage. Dreamcreatures is Jinwoo’s second solo album. The cover is, as you can see, rather minimal but this really is an album that calls out for lyrics and/or notes. Jinnwoo has smoothed out the edges of his vocal delivery but the record does require some concentration for the first two or three spins. It isn’t something you’d play while doing the housework.

The opening track, ‘London, Brighton’, is about a friend of Ben’s who called people to tell them that he was dying, something that we at Folking are familiar with and the anguish is still with us. The friend wasn’t dying but out of that event came a song about the anxieties of modern life. Some of us might have told him that he was a prat but that would have been unkind.

Jinnwoo plays guitar and autoharp and the rest of the accompaniments are provided by producer and fellow Bird In The Belly member Tom Pryor on nine instruments. Working closely with your “band” like this is clearly preferable to having a host of session musicians coming and going and the result is rich, tight and varied.

Many of the songs are concerned with relationships between men but not necessarily gay ones. ‘The Mark’, ‘Your Right Side’ – a deliciously wicked tale – ‘Bambi & Beef’ and ‘Your Table’ are but don’t go away with the idea that Dreamcreatures is one-dimensional. Some songs are autobiographical: ‘Wonderland’ describes a move to the country and the realisation that it was a big mistake and ‘The New Ghost Moves’ is about the realisation that we’re all growing older although Ben seems to be far too young to be thinking along those lines.

Jinnwoo is something of a renaissance man: artist, author and photographer as well as musician – the cover art is his work and sums up the mood of Dreamcreatures rather well.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/Jinnwoo/

‘The Mark’ – official video: