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Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies - The Parish Notices
JEZ LOWE & THE BAD PENNIES "The Parish Notices" Green Linnet GLCD1192

Jez Lowe writes songs from the point of view of someone from the North-East of England, but like the best writers he makes their spirit universal. Now adopted in his native Durham as some kind of local bard, he has become - as he says - a sort of folkie Catherine Cookson.

After several albums on Fellside, this is on Green Linnet and should do wonders for his royalties. Jez is on vocals while Billy Surgeoner, Jez Luton, Judy Dinning, Jake Walton and Rob Kay lend their undoubted musical talents.

When the CD bears a quote from Richard Thompson describing Jez as "the best songwriter to come out of England in a long time" you know you're not going to hear the Blaydon Races and there's a dozen Lowe originals here with several crackers amongst them.

Current favourites are Glad Rags Again, a look back in gratitude to the inspirations for these songs and Sod All - a warning not to fall in love with an Irish music devotee. Then there's Spares or Repair, which uses the nice idea of a newspaper small-ad for a heart for sale and Had Away, Gan On - a homesick blues with the high level couplet "... me accent was a scandal, and the only true born Geordies left were Sting and Johnny Handle." Then again there's Idle Time, which though dealing with the serious subject of unemployment still comes over as Summer Holiday sung by The Lovin' Spoonful.

It's an excellent album with well-crafted songs put over in a professional manner by first-rate musicians, but with that little extra something difficult to define but without which it might have been cold and clinical. Let's hope it makes him world famous. Thoroughly recommended.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition magazine.