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JACK SHARP - Good Times Older 

JACK SHARP - Good Times Older 
From Here Records SITW015CD 

On reading the press release that accompanied the review copy, I was unsure whether this would be my ‘thing’ – there were references to a psych folk rock musical background and the re-writing of songs. But I need not have worried; what we have here is an experienced and skillful musician with a very distinctive voice and an interesting take on predominantly traditional material, augmented by a couple of his own compositions and one of Robin Williamson’s.

He plays a somewhat Carthyesque guitar, the playing sometimes exceeding the singing in its sensitivity. But that’s not to say the singing’s lacking – anything but; in fact, Jack has one of the most instantly recognisable voices I’ve heard in some years, and nearly all the tracks work well. Some of the songs have the same sort of deadpan delivery that typified early Billy Bragg recordings, and this is particularly effective on songs like Jug of This, but a similar treatment of the emotional Irish May Morning Dew isn’t as successful. His version of White Hare has him reaching for some uncomfortably high notes – would have been better sung a bit lower.

But these are minor gripes. There are some remarkably good tracks, and I particularly enjoyed the imaginative title track with its rich imagery. The end result is a CD that gives a genuinely fresh and confident polish to some old songs. As such, it would do a lot of us (older folks who’ve been about since God was a boy) good to take note. And I’ll look forward to getting a chance to hear him live – I bet he’s good.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine