JACK RUTTER – Gold Of Scar & Shale (own label RUTTCD025)

Gold Of Scar & ScaleThere can be no doubt that Jack Rutter is one of the finest young interpreters of traditional song in the country. For his second album, Gold Of Scar & Shale he has enlisted Sam Sweeney to augment his guitars, bouzouki and concertina with cameo appearances from Alice Robinson on Northumbrian pipes and Sam Fisher on flugelhorn. Once again Jack has delved into old manuscripts, both songs and poetry for a set of which I’ve only heard two songs before.

‘I Was Once A Young Ploughboy’ comes from Hammond and Gardiner and tells a familiar story although not one I know. Jack gives it a suitably robust, martial treatment in case you thought that it might be a gentle pastoral piece. That comes with ‘The Hills Of Longdendale’ from the poetry of Ammon Wrigley and which provides the album’s title. Jack introduces it on bouzouki then sings the first verse unaccompanied. Actually, it’s not gentle in the way that a comparable southern English song would be. They’re a hardy lot who walk the hills above Saddleworth. He crosses the border again for ‘The Lancashire Liar’. A not so subtle dig? I don’t know but Sam Sweeney is on fine form.  Next is Jack’s adaptation of a Child ballad, ‘Fair Janet & Young James’. Child lists numerous versions of the song and Jack has combined several texts to produce an interpretation that makes sense to modern ears.

I have heard the infrequently sung ‘John White’ before. It’s a tale of unspeakable brutality: an event that occurred in Hounslow and which resulted in the abolition of flogging in the army. The song is again from Hammond and Gardiner and I believe it was collected in my adopted county of Hampshire. The official record states that White was sentenced to 150 lashes but the song ups the ante to 300.

‘The Shepherd’s Song’ comes indirectly from Willie Scott and features Robinson’s pipes and that’s followed by the other song I’ve heard before, ‘When Jones’s Ale Was New’, although Jack dispenses with the chorus and adds a tune of his own at the end.  ‘Down By The Derwent Water’ and ‘The Sledmere Poachers’ both come from northern collections and finally we have the bitter-sweet ‘Fieldfares’ written by Frederic Moorman who also penned ‘The Dalesman’s Litany’.

Gold Of Scar & Shale is a fine album that introduces a number of lesser-known songs to a wider audience and that’s a bonus. I look forward to hearing Jack in the flesh again next month.

Dai Jeffries

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‘The Lancashire Liar’ – official video:

Jack Rutter announces second album and tour dates

Jack Rutter

Gold Of Scar & Shale, the second solo album from traditional folk singer and multi-instrumentalist Jack Rutter will be available on CD and DL from October 4th 2019.

Produced by Joe Rusby and recorded as live, the new album continues the stripped back approach of its critically acclaimed predecessor, Jack’s debut solo outing Hills. The songs are unearthed gems from the folk canon – almost all of them rare and many previously unrecorded – gathered from old song books and source singers as Rutter uncovered material for this major new release.

Jack’s soaring vocal takes centre stage on the album, delivering each traditional tale in a fresh and current way; his masterful playing and arrangements providing the perfect accompaniment. Jack contributes guitar, bouzouki, duet concertina and harmonium to the album with featured guest musicians Sam Sweeney on fiddle, Alice Robinson on Northumbrian pipes and Sam Fisher on flugelhorn.

There is a strong sense of place on the new record too; over half of the songs have a connection to Jack’s native Yorkshire. The album title itself Gold Of Scar & Shale comes from a line in one such track ‘The Hills of Longdendale’, with words written by ‘The Moorland Poet’ Ammon Wrigley (1861-1946).

Jack Rutter says “To me Ammon Wrigley is describing the rough and bleak parts of the moorland with this line, the scar and the shale that is always nevertheless gold to him. I love this line and realised that for me it’s also a great metaphor for traditional songs; rough, stark and honest things that contain such riches. I found then that I’d stumbled upon the perfect title for this album, or at least one that I really loved anyhow.”

Jack grew up in the Holme Valley area of West Yorkshire, a place steeped in a wealth of traditional song, and following a BSc degree in Countryside Management at Newcastle University has forged a highly successful career playing music across the UK and Europe. In addition to his acclaimed solo work, he has become a highly sought-after collaborator for a host of the biggest names in folk music such as Seth Lakeman, Sam Sweeney and Jackie Oates as well as performing in the celebrated instrumental trio Moore Moss Rutter.

The release of Gold Of Scar & Shale is set to confirm Jack Rutter’s place as a solo artist, singer and performer of traditional songs first and foremost, marking him as one of the standout voices of the folk, roots and acoustic music scene. By shining a light on these original sources and singers, Jack has crafted a collection very much his own.

Pre-order now: www.jackruttermusic.com/shop

‘I Was Once A Young Ploughboy’ – the first single:

Tour Dates

11 October Frodsham Folk Club, Cheshire

12 October Gwaenysgor Village Hall, North Wales

13 October North Wales Music House Concert, Anglesey

14 October Stockton Folk Club, Stockton-on-Tees

16 October Faversham Folk Club, Kent

21 October Ashby Parva Village Hall, Leicestershire

22 October Hen and Chicken, Bristol

23 October Painswick Centre, Stroud

24 October Stafford Folk Club, Staffordshire

25 October Doncaster Roots Music Club, South Yorkshire

26 October Folk at the House Carlisle, Cumbria

1 November Second Time Around Folk Club, Nottinghamshire

2 November SHEFFIELD Album Launch Show, Shakespeares, South Yorkshire

8 November Music Institute Folk Club, Guildford, Surrey

12 November LONDON Album Launch Show, Green Note, Camden

Tickets: www.jackruttermusic.com/gigs