The Jigantics’ debut album, Daisy Roots, was a fun, slightly eccentric set that failed to disguise the band’s serious intent and their second outing, Seconds Out, is rather less light-hearted. That’s not to say that there is any lack of imagination or music to rock along with – far from it – but there are fewer laughs here.
As before, they have drawn material from far and wide to add to four originals written by Martin Fitzgibbon with help from Mark Cole. The set opens with ‘Take Me For Longing’, originally by Alison Krauss but here nicely rocked up. That’s followed by one of the most original takes on a punk song you’ll ever hear. ‘Rebel Yell’ has been taken apart, cleaned and oiled and put back together in what initially reminds me of film noir, if that makes sense, but builds inexorably to a climax and is stretched out to more than five minutes – unheard of when it was written.
As well as the opener, Marion Fleetwood is given the lead on two of the slower, perhaps more dramatic songs. The first is Richard Shindell’s much-covered civil war song, ‘Reunion Hill’, and the second, which reflects its sentiments, is James Grant’s ‘I Will Not Wear The Willow’ on which she shares the vocals with Christine Collister and becomes a complete string section as the song moves to its close.
The light-heartedness comes from the original compositions. ‘Radio’ begins with a clever double entendre, ‘Frankly’ wraps up its politics in an upbeat arrangement and ‘Hate To See You Go Love To Watch You Walk Away’ speaks for itself. Martin Fitzgibbon’s closer, ‘Angels Wings’ proves that there is great depth to his song-writing and that he’s good for so much more than the light relief.
Every member of the band is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. Rick Edwards and Lyndon Webb produce note-perfect acoustic guitar fills with assistance from producer Aaron Taylor and Lyndon provides bass, keyboards and second fiddle while Rick and Mark Cole offer slide guitar. Throw in accordion, harmonica, mandolin and Fitzgibbon’s drums and percussion and you have a hell of a band here, not to mention a hell of fine record.
DAISY ROOTS, the debut album from the Jigantics has the feel good factor and this is often referred to about the Jigantics live show. It reflects the bands belief that having a good time on stage and enjoying the music you make translates to your audience. But that’s not the whole story. Their show and this album are far from one dimensional. If yin and yang represent two differing musical principles then they are greater as a whole. So just when you think you know what’s coming next the band change tack to tweak a different set of emotions, with songs such as The Valley a beautiful, thoughtful piece, written by KD Lang’s long term collaborator Jane Siberry. Daisy Roots was recorded over an eighteen month period in three different studios.
The process began at Blue Moon Studios in Banbury, Oxfordshire, where the band inevitably met up with various members of Fairport on their home turf (including the local curry house) and borrowed one of Chris Leslie’s precious mandolins for one particular track. The move to the Match Factory Studios in Gloucester produced some gritty live tracks, like Hole in My Head and Bad Liver and a Broken Heart with great slide guitar from Rick Edwards and some mean Squeezebox and Harp playing from Mark Cole. As frequent visitors to Clarksdale, Mississippi, Rick and Mark are big fans of the Blues and recorded in Clarksdale with some of the genre’s all time greats, such as Pinetop Perkins, Muddy Waters piano player, as well as sharing a stage with fellow Blues fans and music luminaries Robert Plant and Keith Richards. Plump Hill Studios in the Forest of Dean contributed the final tracks to the album. It was at this point Marion Fleetwood recorded the string parts (viola, violins and cello) for The Valley and Black Mountain Lullaby – a true story of three year-old Jeremy Davidson who was killed in his own bed in Appalachia, VA when a half-ton boulder crashed through the exterior wall of his trailer home – and with a young son of her own Marion delivered a powerful vocal performance on this track to accompany her string arrangement.
Bass player Lyndon Webb was recruited during this time and showed his great versatility by contributing mandolin, lead guitar, and somewhat to the others annoyance, first time pitch perfect backing vocals, as well as some great bass lines. The majority of songs on this album are covers, although there is no shortage of writers in the band. Drummer Martin Fitzgibbon who mixed and produced the album explains the bands thinking.
“It would have been simple to follow the current trend of exclusively recording our own material. That’s a very crowded musical area and we made a choice at an early stage to judge each song on its merit, regardless of its origin. Consequently, there are a variety of writers on this album. Some you may not have heard of, others are well known and consistently produce work of a high quality. Originality is fine but it’s far from being a guaranteed badge of excellence in my experience. We also make the same judgement with our live material. Anyone can bring a song along to a rehearsal and if we like it and it fits into our set then we’ll consider doing it. If it’s written by a band member fine, if not why should it matter? What’s important is that we feel it’s a good song. It’s going to be played in our fashion, which is unlikely to be the same as the original given the instrumentation we use, so it will be our interpretation of someone else’s song. I don’t expect everyone will agree with me, but I spend quite a bit of time at festivals, either waiting to sound check, listening to others sound check, or hanging around waiting to go on stage, and all that time I’m hearing other artists. My preference is always to hear good songs. It doesn’t matter to me as an audience member if it’s an original or not, just play me some good music and I’m happy. That’s the philosophy we have adopted in this band and luckily everyone buys into it. We’re really fortunate that there are no big ego’s to be placated or childish behaviour to be endured. We all get on brilliantly and that makes life and work so much easier”.
The idea for the Jigantics came after some festivals Martin played in Spain.
“We were in Cordoba, a non tourist town, in their massive square. They held a festival which was attended by what seemed to be the whole of Cordoba, young and old, kids running around in a safe environment, babes in arms. There must have been around 30,000 or so drinking dancing and having a great time. They spoke little English but didn’t need to; they were simply enjoying the universal language of music. On the plane back home I thought about putting something together which might replicate that great feeling. The festivals in the UK (mostly folk) I was playing were packed full of singer songwriters, some trios, a few duos. As a drummer, I like to hear a rhythm section and the kind of dynamic that provides”
This band is still evolving, they’ve come a long way as Daisy Roots goes to prove, they know what they have to do and how to get there. This is just the beginning…
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