RALPH McTELL – Hill Of Beans (Leola Music TPGCD50)

Hill Of BeansThe new Ralph McTell CD Hill Of Beans, due for release on the 20th September 2019, is apparently his first collection of original material since Somewhere Down The Road in 2010, though he’s been keeping busy with other projects such as Songs For Six Strings and two albums with Wizz Jones. Hill Of Beans is also notable in that it reunites him with Tony Visconti, who played such a large part in his early recording career.

The promo copy I received gives no details of the other musicians participating in the recording, unfortunately. I don’t suppose I’m the only reader of these reviews who likes that sort of detail, but I suppose in the end it’s what comes out of the hi-fi that really matters.

Here’s the track listing.

  1. ‘Oxbow Lakes’ is a quirky application of a geological metaphor to a human relationship.
  2. ‘Brighton Belle’ combines a reminiscence of a rather beautiful train with family history, a little like ‘Barges’ on the Not Till Tomorrow Is it his own family history? It’s a bad idea to assume that a songwriter – or any kind of writer – is writing about himself. I suppose it doesn’t matter: Ralph has an enviable ability to make any story he tells sound like his own.
  3. You may already be acquainted with ‘Clear Water’ from the version by Fairport Convention on Myths And Heroes, if not from Ralph’s own concert performances. The strings and heavenly chorus in this version are not altogether to my taste, but there’s something uplifting about the song.
  4. I suppose it’s inevitable that ‘Gertrude And Alice’ should introduce its theme of the relationship of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas with Parisian-flavoured accordion: in fact, it’s a charming arrangement, slightly reminiscent of ‘Maginot Waltz’ in its period charm.
  5. ‘Gammel Dansk’ has a somewhat klezmer-ish orchestration and echoes (to my ear) of Brel, Brecht and Cohen. Really rather impressive.
  6. ‘Shed Song’ is as curious a topic as the title suggests, describing the man shed as a “church of masculinity“. Yet set in the context of a family history and married to a particularly attractive melody and orchestration, it turns out to be one of the standout tracks.
  7. The story told in ‘Close Shave’, in contrast with the orchestration of some of the other tracks, is carried only by Ralph’s ragtime-soaked guitar. Not a classic of the genre, perhaps, but pleasant.
  8. ‘When They Were Young’ features more accordion and strings against a meditation on age and first love. It’s actually rather charming.
  9. The waltz-time ‘Sometimes I Wish I Could Pray’ feels unnervingly like a country song. But it’s growing on me.
  10. The title track, ‘Hill Of Beans’, quotes heavily from the movie Casablanca while somehow telling a more personal-sounding story, apparently relating to his days of busking in Paris.
  11. ‘West 4th Street And Jones’ is a live performance, simply carried by Ralph’s guitar and harmonica. Somewhere recently, I saw this described as Dylan-ish. Well, for Ralph it would seems that for Ralph the early romance between Dylan and the late Suze Rotolo – as forever remembered on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – still permeates West 4th Street, but there’s a wistfulness to these words that is quintessentially McTell. If there’s a classic on this album to match ‘From Clare To Here’ or ‘Maginot Waltz’ or even ‘Streets Of London’, this is probably it.

What can you say about Ralph McTell? For many of us, he’s provided some of the soundtrack of our lives for many decades. His singing is never less than pleasant, and his guitar playing, rooted in blues and ragtime, is exemplary. But it’s his songwriting that is his greatest strength, broad in scope but somehow always true to himself. I suppose any song is in some sense a story, but there are few who can tell a story so well in song as Ralph McTell. Hill Of Beans is not (yet) my favourite McTell album but it’s certainly not a disappointment.

David Harley

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‘West 4th Street And Jones’ – live on TV:

THE LOST WORDS – Spell Songs (Folk By The Oak QRCD004)

Having held the unofficial job title “wordsmith” in various contexts for several decades, I was not going to miss the opportunity of hearing and reviewing an album with the title The Lost Words: Spell Songs. Especially as one of the highly-talented musicians involved in the project is Karine Polwart, whose Laws Of Motion CD I reviewed with some enthusiasm here.

It turns out that this is a multi-faceted project with a complicated backstory. Some years ago, the Oxford Junior Dictionary began to replace some of the words it defined with words that were considered to be more in keeping with the lives led by children today, so that words relating to religion and to the natural world – like bird and flower names – were replaced by words related to various aspects of information technology (for example). Robert MacFarlane was one of 28 authors – among the others were Margaret Atwood, Michael Morpurgo, and Andrew Motion – who wrote to Oxford University Press asking them to reconsider, specifically with reference to words “associated with nature and the countryside“. (I don’t intend to get into that argument here, but the OUP’s argument is that while the number of words included in the OJD is a limiting factor, the kind of words that critics want restored do feature in their much-expanded range of dictionaries for children.)

MacFarlane then went on to write a poetry book called The Lost Words: A Spell Book, published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, with watercolour illustrations by Jackie Morris. As it says on the web site, the poems in the book “are called ‘spells’ rather than poems as they are designed to be spoken (or sung!) out loud in order to summon back these words and creatures into our hearts.” The book has inspired a number of musical and multi-media projects, but Spell Songs is the result of a collaborative project commissioned by Folk By The Oak. The CD is available in a hardback book format (a limited-edition double vinyl album box set is also available and includes the CD book).

Sadly, the review CD is a promo copy without the book, but it looks from the web site as if the book would be worth the money for the illustrations alone. But while I haven’t seen the ‘spells’ in isolation, the music certainly sets them off beautifully. Here’s the track list.

  1. ‘Heartwood’
  2. ‘Selkie-Boy’
  3. ‘Kingfisher’
  4. ‘Heron’
  5. ‘Little Astronaut’
  6. ‘Acorn’
  7. ‘Ghost Owl’
  8. ‘The Snow Hare’
  9. ‘Conker (Magic Casket)’
  10. ‘Papa Kéba’
  11. ‘Charm on, Goldfinch’
  12. ‘Willow’
  13. ‘Scatterseed’
  14. ‘The Lost Words Blessing’

The eight musicians all contribute vocals, but also contribute individual instruments as follows:

  • Karine Polwart: tenor guitar, Indian harmonium
  • Julie Fowlis: shruti box and whistles
  • Seckou Keita: kora
  • Kris Drever: acoustic, electric & bass guitars
  • Kerry Andrew: melodica
  • Rachel Newton: electroharp, fiddle, viola
  • Beth Porter: whistling, cello, ukulele
  • Jim Molyneux: piano, Rhodes, synth, accordion, drums, percussion

With this range of singers and instrumentalists, there is much more variation in the material presented here than you might have expected, given their common source, though that unifying theme gives each piece an emotional impact that goes far beyond the introspection of run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter fare. The arrangements, singing and playing are all excellent. And I think I know what one of my wife’s birthday presents is going to be this year. That way I get to read the book as well as hearing some very beautiful music.

David Harley

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[Book ISBN13: 9780241253588]

‘The Lost Words Blessing’ – official video:

THE ASHEN – Slowdive (Kosi Records KOSI001)

SlowdiiveThe name of Andi Lee, recording here under the name The Ashen, may be familiar to you from his time with the metal band My Silent Wake or his more recent, more experimental collaboration with Hilliat Fields, The Flower Of All Good. His new CD Slowdive, though some of its lyrical themes are consistent with the heavy rock and metal ensembles of his earlier career, is different again. It’s not exactly a folk record (though it includes one traditional song and a Dylan number), but shows traditional/folk influences, and can certainly be described as fitting in with “a melancholy folk rock project“, though there’s a raw passion here that transcends melancholy. The other songs are all written by Andi Lee, who plays all instruments except the drums on ‘Lost To The Sea’ and ‘Slowdive’, which are played by Juraj Schrantz.

  1. In his accompanying notes, Andi acknowledges some of the musicians who have inspired him, including Leonard Cohen. And there is, in fact, something Cohen-esque about ‘Lost To The Sea’ with its hints of religious metaphor. Nicely done, and suits his voice.
  2. It’s unlikely that anyone reading this review hasn’t come across the traditional ‘Blackwaterside’ (or ‘Blackwater Side’) in some version or other: it has, after all, been recorded by such luminaries as Paddy Tunney, Anne Briggs, Sandy Denny et al. It has to be admitted that Andi is not the best singer to have recorded it (but then neither was Bert Jansch!) but he treats the song with more respect than many performers I’ve heard. Actually, it’s quite refreshing to hear a version that doesn’t impose a strict folk-rock strict tempo straitjacket on an essentially freestyle Irish melody, or try to hit you between the ears with the virtuosity of the performance.
  3. ‘…And The Swallows Spoke At Dawn’ is a simple but effective guitar piece with what I guess is string synth and framed with birdsong.
  4. ‘Slowdive’ sounds very folky with its modal melody and mandolin breaks, though the words are very much of today – “I wished upon a falling satellite…” The vocals are a little strained in places, but it’s an excellent song well-arranged.
  5. ‘Masters Of War’ is the song originally recorded by Bob Dylan on the Freewheelin Not, to be honest, my favourite Dylan song, though its message is as pertinent today as it was when it was written.
  6. I love the punning title of ‘Last Action Zero’, and the wordplay in the harrowing, haunting lyric, but don’t expect a comic song. It’s a very effective performance: in some respects the best track on the CD.
  7. ‘Weep While You Can’ is a song about impermanence and seizing the day, set to a rather attractive tune slightly reminiscent of Tom Paxton or Eric Anderson. I think this one might creep into my own repertoire.
  8. In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I actually played a small part in the creation of Slowdive as one of the members of the “Internet Choir” featured on the final track, ‘Love Without Borders’. But don’t let that put you off. The lyric harks back somewhat to My Silent Wake’s characteristic themes of faith and loss of faith, but with some references that specifically address many of the things that are so wrong about the 21st century. The sparse electric guitar and percussion morph at the end into four lines sung by the aforementioned Internet Choir with a very church-y organ accompaniment. It’s a stunning and uplifting finish to an album that mostly tends towards the downbeat.

The CD will be released on September 1st, and ‘Love Without Borders’ is available now as a single.

I like this a lot. The sincerity of Andi Lee’s delivery transcends his sometimes uncertain vocals, the arrangements are well-judged, and the lyrics are excellent. I shall be fascinated to see where his musical journey takes him next.

David Harley

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He calls it a rough take – ‘Blackwater Side’:

BALDRICK’S PLAN – Counting The Tides (Grandplan Records GPR1902)

Counting The TidesThough Baldrick’s Plan is a well-known name around my part of Cornwall, until recently my acquaintance with them was restricted to hearing isolated tracks on local radio. However, when I saw the list of tracks and songwriters, I was pretty sure I was going to have to buy and perhaps review their latest CD Counting The Tides. Well, I’ve heard it, I like it a lot, and here’s the review.

The CD consists mostly of the beautifully-harmonizing voices of Jinks Jenkin, Steve Lavington, and Peter Wray, though Peter also plays guitar on a very few tracks. This gives a very traditional feel to songs that are for the most part contemporary, though even with more modern ‘singer-songwriter’ arrangements, none of these songs would sound out of place in any but the most diehard traditional folk sessions. And while younger readers (and my wife!) may consider this approach rather old-school, there are no grounds for complaint when the harmonies and counterpoints are as good as this. Are there really only three members of the group???

Here’s the track listing.

  1. The haunting ‘The Scarecrow’ is taken from the ground-breaking and sadly neglected Bright Phoebus Largely the product of Lal Waterson’s extraordinary imagination, with a final verse from Mike Waterson that ties the themes together with notes of ritual and sacrifice, it’s a song that expresses a modern(-ish) take on a very old tradition. This is a very different version from the Bright Phoebus version, with close harmonies replacing Mike’s distinctive vocals and the guitars of Martin Carthy and Richard Thompson. While this interpretation misses some on some of the subtle modality of the original arrangement, it’s an extraordinary song and beautifully harmonized.
  2. G. K. Chesterton’s poem of overindulgence ‘The Rolling English Road’ was first published in New Witness as ‘A Song Of Temperance Reform’, but as its subsequent inclusion in the novel The Flying Inn suggests, there’s considerably more to the lyric than an anti-alcohol rant.
  3. Jess Arrowsmith’s ‘All The Salt’ is described as a “humanist hymn, secular prayer or areligious spiritual“: not unlike Chris Wood’s Come Down, Jehovah, perhaps, but to me has a more positive feel.
  4. ‘Cape Farewell’ is a song by Linda Kelly, of the Yorkshire-based duo Hissyfit. It’s a typically evocative song about the hardships of fishing off Greenland, with a fine tune and harmonies to match.
  5. ‘The Green Man’ comes from the pen of John Thompson, half of the Australian band Cloudstreet. This fascinating and mysterious figure is well-represented with a tune reminiscent of traditional songs of seasonal ritual, supported by some artful counterpoint.
  6. It’s curious how many of us dislike whaling but are fascinated by whaling songs. Canadian singer/songwriter James Gordon’s song ‘Frobisher Bay’, about the hardships of whaling in the Canadian Arctic, is a classic example. The track benefits from some carefully understated guitar from Peter Wray.
  7. ‘Privateering’ is the first of two songs from Mark Knopfler’s album of the same name from 2012. I’m reminded of John Jerome Rooney’s ‘The Men Behind The Guns’, as set to a similarly stirring tune by Phil Ochs, but in this instance the song pays sly tribute to seamen fighting under letters of marque whose activities were often closer to piracy than to ‘legitimate’ warfare. It’s extraordinary how well Knopfler’s folk/rock hybrid songs are translated to unaccompanied polyphony.
  8. ‘Song Of The Lower Classes’ was written by Ernest Jones, a barrister, writer, and Chartist, for the magazine Notes To The People that he founded after serving two years in prison for “seditious behaviour and unlawful assembly“. The bitter lyric – “We are so low – our place we know / ’T is down at the landlord’s feet / We ’re not too low the grain to grow / But too low the bread to eat” remains all too relevant today, to the point where the additional verse by Ian Robb seems almost too optimistic. This acapella version invites comparison with the version recorded (to another tune) by Martin Carthy et al. In fact, I find this more straightforward arrangement more effective, but your mileage may vary. Either way, it’s a very powerful song.
  9. ‘Counting The Tides’ was written by Baldrick’s Plan member Peter Wray: it’s an attractive tribute to those left behind by those who must work away from home.
  10. ‘Haul Away’ is the other song from Mark Knopfler’s Privateering. It sounds like a classic harmonized forebitter (a sea-song intended for entertainment rather than as a shanty/worksong), but it reflects a belief that the luck of a becalmed ship might be changed by putting a scapegoated sailor overboard, or persuading him to jump.
  11. Roger Bryant’s ‘Hard Rock Miner’ is a harsh reminder of Cornwall’s tin-mining history. An extraordinarily powerful song, effectively performed.
  12. ‘Queen Of Waters’ is Nancy Kerr’s “farewell to the Kennet and Avon Canal“. A fascinating lyric and a super tune.
  13. ‘Pull Down, Lads’, by John Tams, recorded by Muckram Wakes so long ago that it’s practically a folk song, reflects on the departure of workers at a travelling fairground.
  14. ‘Home, Lads, Home’ is a setting by the late Sarah Morgan of a poem by Cicely Fox-Smith, first published as ‘Homeward’ in Fighting Men in 1916.

This is a fine album, with a choice of material that bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary with songs that fit with absolute, appropriate ease into the context of (mostly) unaccompanied three-part harmonization. I haven’t seen Baldrick’s Plan live yet, but on the strength of this CD, I’m very much looking forward to seeing them in the near future.

David Harley

Artists’ website: www.baldricksplan.co.uk

‘Cold Coast Of Iceland’ – live:

KAREN MARSHALSAY – The Road to Kennacraig (Cramasie Records CRCD001)

The Road To KennacraigKaren Marshalsay’s CD of harp music The Road To Kennacraig – due for release on 15th July 2019 – shows her to be a fine harpist specialising in traditional music and compositions of her own in that same tradition, with a particular interest in transferring pipe music to the harp. On this CD she plays three harps: a wire-strung clàrsach from Ardival Harps, a gut-strung lever harp from Jack Yule, and a Baroque bray harp, also from Ardival.  (On track 5 she also plays a boxwood D whistle from Jon Swayne.) On most of the tracks here, she plays the gut-strung harp: I’ve noted exceptions below.

Here’s the track list:

  1. ‘The Road To Kennacraig’ was composed by Karen and is played on the clàrsach, which has a clearer, cooler tone than the gut-strung harp. From a sparse opening, the melody develops into a series of variations incorporating the type of ornamentation characteristic of pipe music.
  2. ‘St Fillan’s’ / ‘The Rhymer’s Reel’: the first tune is a slow air taken from the 1895 Gesto Collection Of Highland Music, published by Keith Norman MacDonald, and to my ear has a somewhat Irish feel, not inappropriately given Fillan’s Irish connections. The second tune is a reel composed by Karen and part of a longer piece called ‘Thomas The Rhymer’, an instrumental interpretation of the adventures in Elfland of Sir Thomas de Ercildoun, as told in various romances and Child ballad number 37 ‘Thomas Rymer’. I was rather gratified to find a recording of the longer piece with fuller instrumentation on SoundCloud.
  3. ‘The Journeying Jig’ is another of Karen’s compositions, featuring variations similar to the extended variations of the pibroch or ceòl mòr form mostly associated with piping, though Karen’s is a name often heard in respect of the fairly recent revival using the clàrsach. While we are sometimes conditioned to expect a jig to be an energetic dance tune in an exotic time signature, this is a gentle piece in Em that explores the migration of pipe voicings to the harp. Very interesting.
  4. ‘Jane Pickeringe’s Lilt’ / ‘Emma’: the first is an (originally unnamed) tune taken from a book owned by Jane Pickeringe in 1616, seguing very effectively into a traditional Finnish waltz.
  5. ‘Ülle’s Reel’ is a slow reel written by piper John Saunders, and features whistle as well as harp: the warmth of the boxwood whistle and gut-strung harp make for a particularly attractive combination.
  6. ‘Ellen’s Dreams’ / ‘Pipe Major Donald MacLean Of Lewis’: the first is a tune by Robin Morton, perhaps best known as a member of the Boys of the Lough, who has added this album to his long list of credits as a producer. Unsurprising, it feels very Irish. The second is a contrasting march written by Pipe Major Donald MacLeod in honour of one of his contemporaries.
  7. The wire-strung clàrsach features again on the melodically simple but effective ‘Carrill’s Lament’, taken from James Oswald’s 18th Century collection Caledonian Pocket Companion.
  8. ‘Bert Mackenzie’s 70th Birthday Waltz’ / ‘Isabel Gow’s Welcome To Edinburgh’ features two modern pieces: the waltz was written by Louise Mackenzie, modulating with a sudden but rather effective change of key and mode into a march by Karen.
  9. ‘The Battle Of The Bridge Of Perth’ is traditional pibroch learned from Allan MacDonald, played on the clàrsach. Karen does a remarkable job of approximating the sound of the pipes here.
  10. ‘Helen’s Farewell’ is another composition by Karen: unsurprisingly, the arrangement has a much more modern feel, though the melody sits squarely in a traditional form.
  11. ‘Dr Karen McAuley Of The Books’ is another of Karen’s compositions, though I can perfectly well imagine it turning up at a tunes session. Probably played three times faster by a speedfreak accordionist. However, it’s very nice indeed at the gentler pace featured here.
  12. ‘The Rhymer’s March’ / ‘MacKinnon’s Brook’: the first tune is another segment from Karen’s ‘Thomas The Rhymer’, followed by a traditional strathspey. Both the wire-strung clàrsach and the gut-strung lever harp are featured here, along with the bray harp. (A wooden bray pin can be set to touch the base of each string, giving the bray harp a characteristic buzz – resembling the resonance of the sympathetic strings of instruments such as sitar and sarod – and also increasing projection.)

Perhaps it’s because of the Marmite sound of the Scottish pipes, but I think we sometimes underestimate the art of pibroch. Certainly my ears have been opened by this CD to a whole new appreciation of the genre, as well as to the instrumental artistry and compositional prowess of Karen herself.  I hope to hear a great deal more of her in the future: in the meantime, I suspect I’ll be listening to this CD quite a lot. Indeed, I’m already thinking that some of those pieces might transfer well to the guitar…

David Harley

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‘The Rhymer’s March/Cath Raon Ruaridh’ – live:

JULIE JULY BAND – Lady Of The First Light (Aurora Folk Records JJB19CD1)

Lady Of The First LightThe Julie July Band is best known currently for Julie’s sensitive reinterpretations of the Sandy Denny songbook, and their previous CD Who Knows Where The Time Goes represents a cross-section of classic Denny material. However, the live set I saw earlier this year included a wider range of Denny material (such as songs from her brief time with the Strawbs) and, intriguingly, first glimpses of material from their new CD. Lady Of The First Light doesn’t just move on from material associated with Sandy Denny, but eschews covers altogether, consisting entirely of original material written by members of the band. It’s a brave move, given that there are few bands in the Denny tribute niche, but many focused on original material. After all, any change in direction requires a certain amount of courage for a band that’s doing very nicely by doing what it already does, and you might expect the typical follower of a tribute band to be somewhat conservative. That said, it appears that a number of the band’s fans have been enquiring as to whether they do original material, and I don’t think they’ll find Lady Of The First Light disappointing.

The current line-up consists of Julie July (vocals), Steve Rezillo (lead guitar and producer of the CD), Don MacLeod (acoustic guitar), Gary Low (drums/percussion, sound engineering, production), and Nick Lyndon (bass guitar), though Julie is the only regular member of the band to be featured on the first track. The CD also features Chris Hutchison (piano, Hammond and vocals), Rebecca Rose (cello), Zoe Devenish (fiddle and vocals) and Nick Goode (fiddle).

  1. ‘Broken Wing’ was written by Julie July and Chris Hutchison, and is an effective ballad simply accompanied by Chris Hutchison’s piano and Rebecca Rose’s cello.
  2. ‘Raven’ was co-written by Julie July and acoustic guitarist Don Macleod. It’s an interesting lyric, hinting at the common cultural representation of the raven as a psychopomp, guiding the spirits of the dead into the afterlife. A good folk-y tune with some nice lead guitar.
  3. ‘Hallows To The Hills’ is the work of Nick Lyndon, its straightforward melody punctuated by some interesting time changes and carrying an ultimately hopeful lyric.
  4. Title track ‘Lady Of The First Light’ is the first of several songs written by Steve Rezillo. Lyrically, it’s an interesting parable with lots of Steve’s characteristically fluent lead guitar to back up Julie’s characteristically strong vocals.
  5. ‘Chicane’, also by Steve Rezillo, has less to do with F1 than with emotional chicanery: but who is being most deceived here? The ambiguity of the story is set against an attractive minor-key melody.
  6. ‘The Ballad Of Rory Starp’ (Steve Rezillo) is something of an oddity, drawing tension from the contrast of a lyric telling the tale of a highwayman against a rock-soaked tune and accompaniment, though with prominent fiddle. Yet it seems to work, somewhat like the use of classic rock in the Heath Ledger film A Knight’s Tale, or maybe the Eagle’s juxtaposition of rock and bluegrass on the Desperado
  7. ‘One Drink Is Too Many’ is another song by Nick Lyndon, with a country/folk-ish feel, dominated by acoustic guitar. There’s a nice country-ish twist to the storytellinglyric: “One drink is too many / too many is never enough“.
  8. ‘For All We Know’ (Steve Rezillo) shares a title but not much else with early hits for Nat King Cole or the Carpenters, though Steve Rezillo’s first lead break does remind me a little of Tony Peluso’s work with the Carpenters. (That’s a compliment, by the way.) Come to think of, there’s something a little 60s/70s about the lyrics, with lines that suggest stories not told here directly. Fascinating.
  9. The country-ish ‘The Healing And The Lies’ was co-written by Nick Lyndon & Emily Ewing, and is actually one of the tracks I remember standing out from the band’s set in Penzance a few months ago.
  10. ‘Black Heart’ is another collaboration between Julie July & Chris Hutchison, and opens with finely judged interplay between acoustic and very clean electric guitar. One of the slower, folkier tracks on the CD, and very effective.
  11. The CD ends with ‘Shine Together’, again written by Steve Rezillo, a suitably upbeat end to the CD with a strong chorus.

This is an excellent collection of songs, though I’m not sure there is a track that quite matches Sandy’s songwriting at its best, though ‘Raven’ comes close, for me, with its atmospheric lyric and attractive melody. That said, I don’t suppose the band plans to jettison the Sandy Denny songbook any time soon, and any or all of these songs would fit well into a Sandy-oriented set. In fact, it’s a collection that plays to their strengths. Julie’s vocals, always a little more mainstream than Sandy’s Gaelic-influenced ornamentation, are very well suited to this range of material, and the band’s instrumental support is as solid as ever. There are plenty of strong choruses here to encourage an audience, and it seems to me that this release can only widen Julie’s audience.

With such a strong start, I’m hopeful that the band will produce lots more original material, and if it does choose to go that route, I’m confident that there are even better things to come.

There will be an album launch party on the 9th June at the Old Rectifying House, Worcester WR1 3NN – tickets £8 from https://eventbrite.co.uk.

David Harley

Artist’s website: https://juliejuly.co.uk/

‘Lady Of The First Light’ – official video: