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BILL JONES - Wonderful Fairytale 

BILL JONES - Wonderful Fairytale 
Brick Wall Music BRICK007CD 

Yes that’s Belinda, 1999’s young rising folk star, 2001’s BBC Radio 2 (Horizon) Folk Award winner who made three studio albums and a live album and achieved massive touring success – then in 2004 she took a “short break” to raise a family. Now she’s back with a more-than-eagerly-awaited new album.

Clearly, this renewal of writing and recording activity is doing Bill a power of good, for she sounds thoroughly comfortable – one’s tempted to draw the inevitable fairytale parallel of awakening as if from an extended sleep! There’s no criticism intended when I say that, in very many respects, Wonderful Fairytale carries on where Two Year Winter left off. Bill is recognisably the same young lady who so captivated audiences back then, having retained her youthfulness, beautiful voice and strong songwriting identity. Listening more closely, you’ll detect an even greater sense of assurance in the writing and at times an almost subliminal extra level of maturity in her delivery that’s hard to directly define.

Bill’s also now resumed, and expanded, the artistic collaboration with Anne Hills that began in 2003 with the Faire Winds trio and the co-writing of two songs on Two Year Winter. Here Anne has co-written four of the tracks with Bill; two (The Arboretum and The Cold Susquehanna) are fresh, deft variants on traditional ballads, while Never A Lad – a tale of apparent married bliss with a knowing twist – contrasts with the tenderly reflective standout Myself At Home. Five further tracks are credited solely to Bill, where she treats themes ranging from the affectionately personal (Caden’s Lullaby, My Elfin Knight) to homecoming (The Wear County Line) and historical-biog (Humphrey Kynaston). A lovely a cappella arrangement of Alan Bell’s anthem, So Here’s To You, is a perfect choice for album finale.

The appealingly gently textured, rich but measured instrumental backdrops behind Bill’s trademark piano or accordion feature violin, flügelhorn, percussion and guitar/double bass from producer Ian Stephenson. We’ll surely accord Bill a hearty welcome back to the folk scene with her Wonderful Fairytale.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine