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The JiganticsThe Jigantics
Album: Seconds Out
Label: Rawtone
Tracks: 12

Having built up a deserved reputation over the last few years as one of the UK's "must see" live roots acts, it's only fitting that at long last Gloucester-Based super-group The Jigantics have finally unleashed their sophomore release "Seconds Out" upon an unsuspecting music-loving public who should, in all honesty, be queueing around the metaphorical block to get their hands on this stellar collection of songs. It's predecessor, "Daisy Roots" (which featured on radio playlists in well over 36 countries), garnered critical acclaim from all quarters - variously described as "something very special", "style, grace and a rare talent" or "americana of the highest quality" - and this second full release promises and delivers more of the same, and then some! A sumptuous mix of top quality self-penned numbers and choice covers served up by 5 musicians of the highest calibre.

"Seconds Out" is clearly a labour of love, it's rich textures permeating each and every song. So whether it's their completely original take on Alison Kruass' bluegrass paean "Take Me For Longing", the heartache fragility of the Martin Fitzgibbon-penned emotional tour-de-force that is "Angels Wings" (guaranteed to give the tear ducts a good work out) or the reinventing of the Steeldrivers "Blue Side Of The Mountain" which growls with wild Appalachian menace, here is an album that delves into the myriad roots of American and British music and serves it up with an originality and respect that is as heartening as it is refreshing.

Take for instance the inclusion of "Rebel Yell". Yes! THE "Rebel Yell"! Peroxide peril Billy Idol's clarion call to the 'yoof' of today is here given the Jigantics makeover treatment with an imaginative alternate musical vision of the song that the curled-lip one would be proud of. Here it is wantonly deconstructed and painstakingly put back together as an altogether different acoustic-based animal, with an organic slightly bluesy feel to it, punctuated with some fine vocal and harp work by Mark Cole. Startlingly original, and destined to find it's way onto a national radio playlist or two if I'm not mistaken!

Folk vocal legend Christine Collister also makes a guest appearance on arguably the biggest production number on the album, lending her not inconsiderable talents with backing vocals on "I Will Not Wear The Willow" (an epic tune written by James Grant and popularised more significantly by Karen Matheson). And it's a folk song of grandiose proportions given due reverence by vocalist Marion Fleetwood who is fast gaining a reputation as one of THE outstanding vocal talents on the roots scene today.

American and British roots combine magnificently on the self-written, and undeniably inspirational anthem, "Frankly", which succinctly and astutely crystallises most right-thinking peoples views on the political climate that has been all-pervasive over the last few years. An acerbic attack that lambasts the 'none for you, and all for me' culture that is becoming evermore prevalent in todays society. Lyrically, as well as musically, this song hits home right to the heart - as the lyric says, "What about us? Yeah, you and me? It's not illegal, it's just immoral! Hey George (Osbourne) - aren't we all in this together? I don't think so! Frankly my dears, they don't give a damn!", and it's hard to argue with that kind of salient sentiment, as the b(w)ankers and the tax dodging champagne quaffing classes take a figurative and richly deserved knuckle duster of a song, bang on the chin!

So, it might be the truly world class vocals of the multi-talented Marion Fleetwood on "Reunion Hill", the made-for-the-wireless good time pop blues of "Radio", or pure acoustic lucidity and lush harmonies of "Crow On The Cradle" that grab the listeners attention, but wherever you look on this album there is a discernible quality oozing from every groove, and it's a quality forged from experience, expertise, and latent musical talent.

Martin Fitzgibbon, Mark Cole, Marion Fleetwood, Rick Edwards and Lyndon Webb can be justifiably proud of what they have achieved with this long-awaited release. "Seconds Out" certainly disproves the theory that the best 'americana' and 'roots' albums are produced by our North American buddies, that much is for sure. This is an album that should, if there is any justice or taste, take The Jigantics up to the next level, and some form of national recognition. The quality on offer here is nothing short of breath-taking - a knock out from start to finish!

Ken Brown