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HANNAH JAMES & TOBY KUHN - Sleeping Spirals 

HANNAH JAMES & TOBY KUHN - Sleeping Spirals 
Jigdoll Records JDR003 

Hannah will be familiar to many of us from her singing and accordion playing with several UK-based combinations. Her interest in continental music has led her to team up with French cellist Toby Kuhn, whose equally eclectic tastes cover a wide gamut of European and North American traditions.

The result is this recording, which serves up various marriages of folk, jazz and European inspired music and song, plus a couple of more traditional English songs and a touch of Americana. It’s a very professional piece of work, but often understated, which somehow leaves it in danger of being seen as “easy listening” – which it isn’t; the traditional songs are given a very different and contemporary treatment, while the various other influences are brought to bear on the new lyrics, all composed by Hannah. There’s some interesting and thought-provoking material, and some very evocative instrumental work. Among these I particularly enjoyed January; a descriptive piece of rare quality.

There remains a slight feeling that the very professional and polished delivery apparent throughout the recording detracts a little from its spontaneity and removes some of the feeling from the recording, but that’s just my subjective view; there’s a lot to enjoy here.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine