Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Niag Records  NIBL013

Arguably, a measure of the health and confidence of all folk traditions could be willingness to accommodate other musical and, especially, modern influences. Somehow in purist England, such moves are always more controversial.  Do it with radical zest, youthfulness on your side and high media profile and heretical enfant terrible status is guaranteed - witness Jim Moray’s press since 2003’s debut Sweet England. Yet, here, with his fifth album, now with a predominantly acoustic emphasis and more markedly sensitive restraint, the maturity and excellence of his distinctive music is perhaps worthy of a new application of the adjective Moravian.

The alchemy involves, doubtless, much musing before fusing several elements. Firstly, take several traditional songs. Draw on Roud, Vaughan Williams, etc., but also some contemporaries, such as Martin Carthy, with academic attention to the folkloric detail. For extra colour, add a couple of unexpected covers (Anais Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac). Without any preciousness, but respectfully and sensitively, reinterpret the material to reflect wider European folk influences and some jazz, rock and other contemporary musical elements. Apply different tunings and deliberately look for clever and interesting chord structures. Take full advantage of modern mixing opportunities to create sophisticated soundscapes and atmosphere and always make sensitive expression of the story central to the whole.

If you’re gifted enough to sing well and ably to play guitars, piano, drums, keyboards, banjo, concertina and melodeon, and you have recording and production experience, you can do most of it yourself. However, with fame and reputation too, you can invite people like Tim Harries (some excellent double bass work) and Jackie Oates (violin, backing vocals) to help, and offer cameo appearances to the likes of Andy Cutting and B J Cole. The essence of the mature Moravian style remains restless, creative and imaginative but assuredly fitting and highly listenable. The result is an entirely convincing and compelling music offering deep delights in its many twists and turns.

Kevin T. Ward

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.