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ELBOW JANE The Boldest Blood

ELBOW JANE The Boldest Blood
Fellside FECD242

Elbow Jane have got a great live act which takes the audience on a roller coaster of emotions. They have three very good lead singers and songwriters. Add to this their excellent musicality, all served up with that Northern sense of humour - even though they do hail from the wrong side of the Pennines - and you’ve got a winning formula.

The Boldest Blood is their second CD for Fellside and their third or fourth altogether. It has all their usual trademarks: a roller coaster of emotions due to the writing of Joe Topping, Kev Byrne, and Rich Woods; sympathetic instrumentation and a good clear sound due to the lads themselves and Paul Adams at Fellside; and a well presented booklet and packaging. I have to say though that I found the hand written notes a bit hard to read - but I know a couple are, or were, teachers so perhaps it should be expected!

The CD opens well with Ode To Icarus with its message to beware the falls that follow success, followed by a song inspired by interviews with those left behind as a result of the horrors of war, something which seems ever increasingly important during the current climate. It has a great chorus, but somehow the verses seem to fall short of delivering such an important message. Gone Are The Days puts into words the feeling of despondency the inhabitants of the post industrial north feel - irrespective of which side of the Pennines. Pilgrim’s Lullaby suggests we learn from the past and rest awhile during the current economic climate or “chaos” as it is called here.  I found Throw Me To The Wind quite inspirational in the faith expressed, which is not surprising in that they have featured on a well known Radio 2 Sunday show hosted by an equally well known celebrity from a bit further west on the same coastline.

Throughout The Boldest Blood there seems to be a thread running about hope no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we still need to push ourselves but to be aware of the consequences - both for us and others.

Whilst I enjoyed this CD, I am not sure it lives quite up to the high expectations I had as a result of previous releases and live performances. I haven’t heard this material played live, and that is where I feel Elbow Jane’s strength lies. But listen to The Boldest Blood for yourself and make up your own mind.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.