CD review by Greg Barnett
The album starts with a crisp and rhythmic six-string guitar, melodic vocal, acoustic bass, fiddle and well-judged vocal harmony, all well recorded and mixed into a rich and pleasant blend.
The poetic lyrics are attractive and can be clearly heard above the music.
To my ears, the ‘feel’ is similar to Billy Bragg, the accent and the times might differ, but both men have the ability to paint the human condition and yearning for a better life, especially amongst working men.
Where Bragg is direct and simple, Jez Lowe’s skill with guitar and arrangements provides additional depth and musicality.
For example, in “Black Trade”, the instrumentation weaves around evocative lyrics about the old shipyards, “all you welders and riveters and boiler-smiths and platemen, you gaugers and pipefitters, sparks and sheet metal workers, all you riggers and coppersmiths, red-leaders and hard drinkers, you cablers and taggers, you pullers and dabbers.”
Your mind is transported to darker times before ‘Health and Safety’, when most trades were dangerous.
His website says ‘a double nomination in the 2015 BBC Folk Awards for best singer and best new song, was a timely reminder of Jez Lowe’s standing in the UK folk and acoustic music scene’.
Not only he is one of the busiest live performers in the country, but his songs are among the most widely sung by other performers, whether by long-established acts like Fairport Convention, The Dubliners and Bob Fox, or by the new breed of stars like The Unthanks, The Young Uns and The Duhks.
Jez apparently has a regular stable of supporting musicians, and their contributions are excellent, including bass, clarinet, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, cuatro, piano, tin whistle, and cittern, and several of them provide additional vocals.
The album is all the more remarkable for Jez having written everything himself (except for a single co-write).
Also available by Jez Lowe are Tenterhooks – TN545-54 and Honesty Box – TN544-54