NIGHT HOURS - JIMMY ALDRIDGE & SID GOLDSMITH
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
- Release Date: 9th December, 2016.
- Genre: Folk, Traditional Folk
- Record Label: Fellside Recordings
- Tracks: 12
- Website: http://www.jimmyandsid.com/
- Review By: Gary Smith
If you haven't come across South-West based folk singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith before you are in for a treat. They are a very talented, deep thinking duo with a social conscience, who update some of the themes of traditional folk music in new, very fresh and creative ways. Their new second album 'Night Hours' is a collection of traditional folk and self penned songs which explore issues often as pertinent now as they were many centuries ago. Jimmy & SId are modern folk troubadours with a great ear for melody and a keen eye for observation. They create a huge amount of passion and feeling in their music, but always with the right measure of cadence.
The album was recorded. mixed and mastered by Phil Davies at Room4Studios in Bristol. It was produced by Jimmy & Sid with help from the executive producer for Fellside Paul Adams. They are joined on the album by James Gavin (Fiddle), Tommie Black-Roff (Accordion), Dominic Henderson (Ulleann Pipes & Whistles)
'Night Hours' begins quite aptly with a short soundscape of night-time in Bristol entitled the 'Bridge'. With it's soft finger picked banjo and acoustic guitar, one of my favourite tracks on the album is the title track 'Night Hours'. Dedicated to all the night workers who are are largely unseen, unheard and unrepresented. The song explores the loneliness of the night-shift, their reflection and perspective on the rest of us......the 'day' workers.
One of my favourite current UK singer-songwriter's is the very talented Boo Hewerdine and I really love Sid & Jimmy's cover of one of Boo songs 'Harvest Gypsies'. It's an excellent exploration of the plight of migrant workers during the great depression of the 1930's. Forced from the dust bowl in the Mid-West after planting cotton and enduring failing crops, many families migrated to California in the hope of finding work picking the rich harvests in the area.
'Bonny Bunch Of Roses' (Roud 664) is a traditional folk song with a new arrangement from Jimmy & Sid. The song imagines a conversation between Napoleon Bonaparte's young son and Napoleon's second wife Marie Louise. She is warning her son in following his fathers footsteps and chasing power and glory in war. Many singers see the 'Bonny bunch of roses' as symbolising the UK, a metaphor for the red-coated British Army or the spoils of war. 'The Ballard Of Yorkley Court' is based on a modern day version of 'The Diggers'. A group of workers move onto a 180 acre disputed farm and set about creating an international community. This song was written after their first unsuccessful eviction from the land. Watch out of the wonderful solo at the end with where Sid & Jimmy are joined by James Gavin on fiddle, Tommie Black-Row on accordion and Dominic Henderson on Ulleann pipes and whistles. The haunting and mournful West Indies sea shanty 'Shallow Brown' (Roud 2621) is followed by the fantastic and sprightly hornpipe 'Jackie Tar' (Roud 5812).
There is a lovely transition into the next song other tradition tune the aspirational 'Mary & The Soldier' (Roud 2496). Some super storytelling here and Jimmy & Sid judge the feel to perfection. The Scottish Child ballad 'Willie O' The Winsbury' (Roud 64/Child 100) tells the tale of a king who returns from Spain to find his daughter pregnant by young WIllie. Not happy as you might have expected, the King summons him looking to have him killed. But on meeting him he is so stuck by his handsomeness that he offers both his daughter, title and land in marriage. Willie accepts the King's offer but refuses the offer of land and title as his love for the King's daughter is enough. Jimmy and Sid have a real social conscience and this is evident in 'Moving On' about the residents of Newham, Focus 15 and their long hard battle to secure local social housing. Newham Council have sought to re-locate residents as far away as Manchester, Birmingham and Stoke. Original written about the struggles of the Irish being dominated by their English Lords 'The Grazier Tribe', Sid has updated the song to reflect current overgrazing issues where the industry is being held up with EU subsidies. This preserves a way of life started generations ago, but at what costs for biodiversity and our food growing systems? We travel to the Australian Bush for the next song 'Along The Castlereagh' sometimes called 'The Old Jig' or 'A Bushman's song'. The Castlereagh is one of the tributaries of the Barwon River in New South Wales. The album ends with a reflective self penned song from Jimmy & Sid entitled 'Something Good' about yearning for a simpler life in modern times.