I was pleased when "North Face" dropped through the letterbox for review, it seemed barely a short time ago that Jed Grimes was touring his previous release "Heart & Hand" and we were chatting in the most unlikely of places, a Cheshire Conservative Club, pre gig.
It was most sobering to realise it was almost three years ago and it's fair to say that Mr Grimes has hardly been prolific over his career which spans from the well-loved "Hedgehog Pie" of the Seventies through the brief yet enjoyable romp that was "Pacamax" to his solo outings and other ventures.
And that's a shame for what he lacks in quantity is more than made up in quality. Couple a timberous voice that has a richness and depth which you love almost from the first note to the warmth of his playing (acoustic guitar, lap steel and bouzouki). Add in a sprinkle of sensitive thoughtful and restrained arrangements and I'm still not doing justice to what's on offer here. Not even close.
From the opening track "The Snow It Melts The Soonest", the stall is set. Understated tones, matter of factish, "it is what it is", "accept me as I am", almost boasting, certain of mind. It's a revisiting of the track recorded back in 2002 with that other North East stalwart Bob Fox when they both appeared in a band called "The Hush" (their one album "Dark To The Sky" is highly recommended if you come across it).
Joining Jed on this new, short but welcome, release is ex Hedgehog Pie member Michael Doonan, who adds harmony vocals, whistles, flute and more importantly his emotion evoking Uillean Pipes which are put to good use on the final track, an eight minute instrumental "Spalpeen Aroon / An Phisloach" which perfectly fits the windswept wilderness of the Celtic Coastline and is surely destined for inclusion in a documentary sometime soon.
In between those two tracks rest four more takes of tradition, twisted tastefully, "Rake And Rambling Boy", "Christmas Day In Da Morn", "The Lambs On The Green Hills" and "The Pride Of Kildare". And whilst you may be familiar, or may not, all are worthy of inclusion by the sheer inventiveness of the interpretations. In Jed's hands these sound fresh and new, could you ask for any more?
It's rarely you can sum up a review in one word, this is the exception.
That one word?
|Robert Lane: Ends And Starts||Gryphon: Red Queen To Gryphon Three|
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