JACKIE OATES – The Joy Of Living (ECC Records ECC018)

The Joy Of LivingJackie Oates’ new album, her seventh, is an intensely personal one with songs spanning four generations of her family from her grandfather to her daughter Rosie. The latter can be heard on several tracks notably her “theme tune”, ‘Rosy Apple’. The Joy Of Living reflects on new life and death – Jackie’s father died unexpectedly five days after Rosie was born, and I really can’t imagine the tumult of emotions she must have felt.

So a makeshift studio was set up in her kitchen and producer Simon Richmond would travel to hers and they would get as much work done as possible in the time available – hence young Rosie’s contributions to some of the tracks. The album opens with Hamish Henderson’s ‘Freedom Come-All-Ye’. Jackie’s father fought in the 51st Highland Division, Henderson’s regiment, and she sings the beautiful tune sensitively but without excessive emotion. From there we turn to the new life with ‘Spring Is Coming Soon’, a song that Jackie made up when Rosie was very small and it paves the way for several other children’s songs scattered through the album.

John Lennon’s painful ‘Mother’ comes as something as a shock and I’m still not sure how to interpret it. Is Jackie lifting the lid on something better left concealed? If so she quickly slams it shut again with a reprise of ‘Spring Is Coming Soon’ with its repeated “we’ll be happy very soon”. It’s certainly a stunning performance and one that Jackie is not afraid to tackle on stage. The traditional ‘Virginny’ is a song that Jackie learned from her father and is faithful to his version and now we have encompassed all four generations.

‘The Joy Of Living’ had quite an impact on the young listeners at the launch event but, being an old codger, I can’t help but contrast it with ‘The Manchester Rambler’, written when MacColl was a young man. The love of the mountains is present in two songs written roughly fifty years apart in very different contexts. But I digress. ‘Unicorns’ is another song that Jackie grew up with and I suppose that ‘Catch Me If You Can’, ‘The Bird’ and ‘Sweet Farewell’ fall into that category. The last two songs return to Jackie’s father. ‘The Last Trip Home’ was one of his favourites and ‘Rolling Home’ is actually a fragment of a recording of him in a session – Jackie picks up the song as the clip fades out.

Musically, there is great variety but nothing is overbearing – how many musicians can you actually record in a kitchen at one time? The piano was already there but John Parker had to bring his double bass, Barney Morse Brown his cello and Matt Allwright his pedal steel. Jack Rutter is Jackie’s regular sidesman now, John Spiers dropped in and Megan Henwood was around a lot to provide the backing vocals. The Joy Of Living was recorded over a long period and not necessarily under ideal circumstances but it comes over as fresh and spontaneous and, indeed, a joy to listen to.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: www.jackieoates.co.uk

‘Nay Ivy Nay’ – live:

Jackie Oates: new album

Jackie Oates
Photograph courtesy of The Oxford Times

We are proud to announce the release of the seventh studio album, The Joy Of Living, by Jackie Oates. It’s a record that covers an intensely personal period of her life, in which she celebrated the birth of her daughter Rosie and bid an emotional and loving farewell to her beloved father.

The Joy Of Living features songs made famous by folk greats including Ewan McColl, Lal Waterson and Davey Steele, as well as carefully picked songs from contemporary artists such as John Lennon and Darwin Deez – all interpreted in Jackie’s inimitable style.

Recorded at home in Jackie’s kitchen (with baby Rosie in attendance) she collaborated with fellow Imagined Village alumni and producer Simon Richmond to create this intimate, touching and uplifting collection. The album also features performances by friends from the world of folk including Mike Cosgrave, Barney Morse Brown, John Parker and Jack Rutter.

Born and raised on folk music, Jackie Oates started her career as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2003. Since then she has been nominated for twelve BBC Folk awards; at the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards she scooped Best Newcomer and Best Traditional Track on the same night.

Jackie will be performing at festivals throughout the summer and is on tour in November 2018 and February 2019.

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‘The Joy Of Living’ – live:

NINEBARROW – The Waters & The Wild (own label)

The Waters & The WildIf music be the food of love, then prepare for indigestion … was the title of a 1967 album by a band I’m not prepared to mention here. It’s not quite appropriate in this case for although The Waters & The Wild serves up some rich fare it is very digestible indeed. I think I’ll stop now before I stretch the metaphor with remarks about loosening the top trouser button and sleeping in an armchair with a newspaper over your face. You get the idea.

If you haven’t caught up with them yet, Ninebarrow are Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere. They are from Dorset and Dorset is a part of them and very much a part of this album. The record begins with two very contrasting songs. The first, ‘The Hour Of The Blackbird’, is a pastoral piece heralding the coming of spring and expanding the pagan idea of the winter and summer kings. It’s followed by ‘Halsewell’, the story of Dorset’s worst shipping disaster with dramatic vocals and a suitably thunderous accompaniment.

Jon’s multi-instrumental skills are augmented by James’ reed organ and various basses and drums, notably from Evan Carson, Joe Limburn and producer Mark Tucker with backing vocals from The Teacups. The biggest sound, however, comes from Barney Morse-Brown’s string arrangements recorded by him and Jane Griffiths and when I say big, I mean big.

‘Prickle-Eye Bush’ is a song that has come back into fashion again – or maybe it never went away – and I’m always tempted to skip over it on an album. Ninebarrow try to do something different with it and the hand percussion breathes some life back into it. That’s followed by ‘While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping’ as borrowed from June Tabor. Neither of these songs are necessarily from Dorset but they could be. Jon and James immediately return home or ‘Hwome’ with that most Dorset of poets, William Barnes, but the song doesn’t overly rely on dialect and the arrangement is really nice, particularly in the outro section.

The title track is definitely an immigrant being derived from W B Yeats’ ‘The Stolen Child’ but the tune of ‘Row On’ was composed by another local, Tim Laycock and ‘Gather It In’ is a catalogue of old harvest customs. The last track is John Kirkpatrick’s ‘Sing A Full Song’, a song with a universal emotional appeal.

The lyrics and background information can be downloaded for free – lucky me, I received a pukka copy with the album; a rare case of a generous press agent. You know who you are. Although the words are not essential to the enjoyment of the album they, and the song notes, help to draw you into Ninebarrow’s musical world which is a very good place to be.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: www.ninebarrow.co.uk

‘Prickle-Eye Bush’ – live:

JACKIE OATES – Lullabies (ECC Records ECC009)

JACKIE OATES LullabiesCovertly perhaps the ‘folk music’ world has taken out shares in Mothercare but then again, maybe it’s just had a case of the ‘January Blues’ as every self-respecting artist appears to have recently kidnapped lullabies and children’s songs with which to regale their listeners. Megson, Pauline Vallance and now Jackie Oates amongst others have decided that the art of the lullaby to gently coerce the ‘ahh’ factor from its audience is what is required to take our minds off the latest monumental government cock-up. On a selection which (quite rightly in my opinion) settles on lesser known poems etc introduces the seductive string tones of Barney Morse-Brown (cello) and the Reykjavik Sinfonia and Jackie herself on viola and octave fiddle. I was surprised and delighted that she included “Junk” by Paul McCartney (a song I first heard performed by John Denver many years ago) one that, as Oates states fits comfortably within the canon of lullabies. In my dotage I can safely say that the ‘folk’ scene…and those of a discerning nature…are well served here and if you’re looking for a soothing, non offending cosh in these politically correct times you’ve come to the right place.

PETE FYFE

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Artist’s website: www.jackieoates.co.uk