Figgie Hobbin, two words that may not be familiar to those from east of the Tamar, but is actually a traditional Cornish pastry made with suet and raisins. More pertinently for this publication perhaps, it is also the title of a collection of children's poems by the Cornish poet Charles Causley and it is that book that forms the backbone of Jim Causley's latest release.
Jim is no stranger to the works of Cornish poets, having previously adapted Charles Causley's works for 2013's Cypress Well and Jack Clemo on last year's Clay Hymnal. This latest project was commissioned by the Charles Causley trust to mark the centenary of the poet's birth and, rather than produce a Cypress Well II, Jim decided to focus on Causley's collected poems for children.
I suspect that, if you mention poems for children to most people, a certain style will spring to mind. There are songs on this album such as Python On Piccolo, Good Morning Mr Croco-doco-dile or Tabitha Tupper that would fit that particular style but I Am The Song is so much more than that, There are memories or childhood such as Newlyn Houses with its child's eye view of apartment living and the neighbours who share the building, but always asking the question, just who is the resident on the top floor who is heard but never seen? That unseen neighbour also happens to be the first hint of a slightly dark thread that runs through much of Charles Causley's work & will be familiar to anybody who has read Figgie Hobbin, a thread that continues through Colonel Fazackerley, The Jolly Hunter and Lord Lovelace. As a counterpoint, there is comic story telling of the highest order such as I Don't Want To Grumble, the tale of a mouse driven to distraction by a cuckoo clock and One Day In A Perranporth Pet Shop, the story of a reluctant pet.
This album is not just about Charles Causley's words, the music composed by Jim Causley has an equally prominent role in establishing the mood of this collection. As I Am The Song progresses we are taken through a variety of styles from traditional folk to Country and Swing. Where Jim Causley has really excelled is in setting his relative's words to new music so seamlessly that it seems that these poems have always been songs, something that is emphasised by use of familiar motifs such as hints of Hickory Dickory Dock in I Don't Want To Grumble or traditional Cornish tunes in The 'Obby 'Oss as the Padstow 'Oss takes us and himself on a journey round Cornish Folklore associated with the onset of Summer.
I Am The Song is a joyful collection that takes the listener on a journey through images of childhood, folklore and history with Jim Causley's music weaving seamlessly around Charles Causley's words. In this album Jim Causley and friends have created a fitting celebration of the centenary of his relative's birth that will be enjoyed by children of all ages. Coming from Cornish stock on my maternal side, the book Figgie Hobbin was a major part of my childhood and one that has been passed onto my own children. It is an honour to have this record as a part of my adulthood and I Am The Song is a CD to which I will never tire of listening.
|Lindsay Straw: The Fairest Flower Of Womankind||Jennifer Saran: Wake Up|
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