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Reviews

Wildwood Jack Wildwood Jack
Album: Liberty Ships
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 11
Website: http://www.wildwoodjack.com

Wildwood Jack, being Adam Piggot and his wife Jayne Freeman are true troubadours. Four years ago, they sold their home and took to the road and sea to live the life accumulating songs and stories as they went. All the songs on their new album are self penned. They played on street corners, folk clubs, cafes, theatres and any number of other venues, even a circus tent. Travel, they certainly did, all round Europe and even ventured as far as New Zealand. Their style is one of gentle tunes and harmonies, primarily from their vocals and the combination of guitar and ukulele

"An Ordinary Day" This song starts with an almost mystical sound reminiscent of some of the work done by George Harrison. The drone of a single note held on an accordion leads us into a heavily reverb'd acoustic guitar and then the melody picked out on the ukulele. The minor key vocal Jayne produces has a feeling of ennui and a somewhat disconcerting drop of half a tone to a Bb rather than the B that a musical ear might expect in the middle of the line. I found this song growing on me the more I played it. It portrays, as might be expected from the title, the mundanity of a not extraordinary day. A grey day where the effort of getting out of bed seems too much of an effort. Why did you wear that dress, why do you comb your hair that way? Just rest yourself and ease your mind. A building crescendo on cymbals and percussion leads us back into the air of mystery.

"The Captain and Me" We stay in the realm of mysticism for this track too. However, although the jolliness of the tune lifts you immediately, this almost dispelled by the first line, "Blood on the foredeck, tears in the sea." As a boater for over forty years I can certainly relate to that scenario. This tale tells of a couple who cut their ties and set sail off into the unknown. Burning their bridges away from being slaves to the tasks on shore. It had a refreshing air about it and some anticipation of might be met in the future. It is a jolly, almost rollicking tune as the two of them set off towards the ocean.

"The Lost Gypsy" The beat redolent of a horse trotting along with a caravan in tow, maybe even of a ticking clock, this track reflects on how what goes around comes around. Americana influences can be heard in this well observed song entitled The Lost Gypsy. It recognises things that often pass unnoticed in the business of the day.

"Man Overboard." This is a lively song about a diver lost overboard searching for various treasures that might be found sea. The tempo reflects the speed of action required in such an event. Raising a flag for "a diver down" and begin the search. However as it gallops along at an incredible rate it does seem far too jolly in such a circumstance.

"Unsinkable Sam" is an anti-war song like no other I have heard. it mentions the sinking of several notable ships during WWII, but our hero has no fear of sea conflict. as he appears to have been aboard all of them "I tell you all this was nothing to me, to be set adrift on a stormy sea" This is a song about Unsinkable Sam. This narrative is aptly delivered in the form of almost a slow march.

"By The light Of This Lantern." A tale of the welcoming and homely light given off by a friendly lamp in many different circumstances. Some however do not have the same reaction as in the words of the song, "....(it) brings joy to any man but me." It sadly relates how some souls are untouched by the warmth and hope that others feel on the reflection of a light in their lives.

"Morning Star." Bringing to mind a sparkling winter soundscape, this track takes on a journey through a landscape on a chilled day. It reminds us of the beauty around us on such a day.

"Just A Dreamer" While almost the whole album has a dream like quality, this track in particular addresses our dreams. As we are drawn into the folds of the song, it carries the accusation "you're just a dreamer like me" and you realise that you have been caught up in the presentation of this original song.

"Liberty Ship" The title track of this new album continues the nautical theme. We are taken on a sea voyage to where?, who is to know what adventures and experiences lie ahead. "We'll give thanks to fortune as we sail on the liberty ship." It is an engaging song and it reminded me of standing on Hyde Pier in Southampton Water watching as the "Southern Cross" sailed to Australia carrying her load of "ten pound poms" as they began their emigration to the new world. We knew no-one on that ship, but the emotion of the sailing affected everyone on that pier. This song affected me in a similar way.

"Bluegrass Boy" contains the tones and sounds that you might expect from the title, I am always in awe of guitar picking of such quality.

The final track on this album, (which I got to like more as I played it over and over) is a new original gentle romantic song about memories of a tryst beside the Montgomery Canal in Wales and segues into "Hush Little Baby" which is the only song on the album which has not been written by Adam Piggot or Jayne Freeman

The delicate musicianship and subtle touches in the construction and performance which abound on this disc are well worth listening to properly, do not make the mistake that I did and have a first listen whilst travelling in the car. The ambient noise, means that so much of the artistry and intricate instrument picking that is exhibited here can easily be missed. Having now heard the whole album several times in a quieter environment, I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Wildwood Jack will be touring throughout the UK and Mainland Europe during 2018 try their website www.wildwoodjack.com for tour dates.

Tony Collins