This is 40 years’ worth of Jez Lowe from his first album The Old Durham Road, through the Bad Penny group days and down to his present solo endeavours. Five albums in a box! It’s not just a collection, it’s a biography. Forty years ago he was the very first folk artist to walk through the doors of the fledgling Fellside studios, and as the director, Paul Adams, says, “we learned our respective trades together”. Indeed, the first thing you notice is the change in recording technology, with the early ones comprising just a microphone stuck in front of your man. Blessed with a fine lilting tenor voice, Jez sounds not very different today from when he first started out; the only real change has been in the production and arrangements. The Fellside Collection takes the listener through this evolving process.
Jez never strayed too far from his roots in the North East and with few exceptions his songs reflect the life and times of Geordie folk. His genius, though, has been in making us all feel part of the humour, toils and troubles of that part of the country. I lived for ten years in Durham where he was the voice and spirit of more than just folk music. Many would have succumbed to mawkish nostalgia after the closure of the pits, but not him. Having recently seen him in the Pit Poets, his songs are reflective and optimistic in equal measure. Listen again to ‘A Small Coal Song’ or ‘Last Of The Widows’ now that the years have passed, and you’ll see what I mean. Clever words, hidden depths and many stories to tell.
Artist’s website: www.jezlowe.com
Published by kind permission of Shire Folk.
An oldie but a goody – ‘Back In Durham Jail’ – live: