Where to start? “This is a tale from a time younger than ours, where love and forgiveness triumphantly overcome fear, sadness and greed”, says Jessie Summerhayes in her sleeve notes. It would be easy to say that The Tears Of Jenny Greenteeth is typical of Words Of A Fiddler’s Daughter and it is in that it has words by Jessie and improvised music by Adam Summerhayes and Murray Grainger. In its style it’s very different from their previous work, bigger and more expansive – almost a saga – created with Deborah Norris and Ballet Folk.
The Jenny Greenteeth of folklore is an evil water spirit given to pulling children and old people into the water and drowning them. In Jessie’s story the people of the town of Greenwater are seeing their children disappearing and suspect Jenny, the miller. But there is more to it than that and I refer you back to Jessie’s sleeve note for this is also an allegory for our destruction of nature and in particular the fouling of our waterways.
The music played by Adam and Murray is heavily influenced by traditional tunes, appropriate for an age-old story and giving Ballet Folk plenty to work with. But Jessie’s vocal performance is a real tour de force: dramatic and energetic – I can imagine the dynamism she brings to the show on stage.
There are lots of twists and turns in the narrative so this is not a record you can listen to casually. It would be like settling down to watch a film on TV and falling asleep in the middle – you’d know something happened but you wouldn’t be sure what. No, you need to give yourself over to it. I can see The Tears Of Jenny Greenteeth being published in book form with illustrations by Anna Smith, who painted the album cover. I’d buy a copy.
This is one of the more unusual albums I’ve heard this year and one of the best.
Artists’ website: www.fiddlersdaughter.com
‘The Tears Of Jenny Greenteeth’: