Topic Records TSCD568

One of the foremost current purveyors of the tradition is back in harness again. Oft times she gives us humour, perchance a jazzy number, occasionally whimsy. Nope, none of that here on this occasion.  She is mired up to her knobbly knees in her comfort zone – Trad ballads of war and partition, and misguided and false love.  Light relief, if any, in two contemporary songs of war widows believe it or not (thanks in part to her involvement in the Seeds of Peace project).  The pinnacle is her rendition of Burns’ Speak Eas,delivered as a master blow. Sympathetic accompaniments by Andy Cutting, Mark Emerson and Tim Harries (the usual suspects, otherwise known as 1651 [is that the best name they could come up with]) compliment her peerless voice perfectly.

I mused many years ago that JT’s voice had a maturity way beyond her years.  She now possesses the years to match and conveys atmosphere and emotion with precision.  A couple of forays into the French tradition are McGarrigle-esque, but with her own serious angle (nothing wrong with that, this is what she does best – interpretation with integrity, and always with intimately researched provenance documented with excellent sleeve notes).  Mark Emerson’s photos are works of art in themselves.  This is the full package (and bordering on a full hour of packaged emotion). Love her or hate her, she is passionate about her craft, and this offering sums her up in a nutshell.  A new product, released in time honoured fashion immediately prior to the festival season, this should satisfy all her devotees and new converts this year.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 74 of The Living Tradition magazine.