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JIM MORAY Sweet England NIBL 003

One of the pleasures of listening to music is the unexpected arrival of a new talent. Jim Moray is a 21-year-old recently qualified music student and this disc was largely made in his bedroom and funded by a student loan!

The material is familiar from the English tradition apart from one track written by Jim but all have been given radically new and different arrangements. He has used numerous techniques- there are techno beats, multi-tracking of voices and instruments, backward running tapes and various found sounds running through the tracks.

The first track, Early One Morning, is a statement of intent. He has deliberately chosen one of the most hackneyed songs in the tradition and stamped it with a totally original arrangement. A solemn string quartet is followed by a swirling techno beat but it all makes total sense and the settings are so calculated to bring out the meaning and the beauty of the lyrics.

His vocals on all the songs come from the rock or pop tradition rather than singing with a mock rustic accent, but there is a clarity to his vocals, which makes them stand out against the background. Whilst there is always a lot happening on all the carefully worked arrangements, there is a great sense of space and tension and whatever happens the song remains the primary thing.

He has a lovely sense of melody- April Morning is built on a beautiful violin and guitar motif then it fades out to an ethereal female chorus. Gypsies, otherwise known as Seven Yellow Gypsies, has a dissonant trumpet opening followed by clipped electric guitar, which again refreshes a very well known song.

I could run through all ten tracks but will confine myself to one further illustration, The Week Before Easter, which starts with an unaccompanied solo vocal, which changes into a multi-tracked vocal redolent of the Beach Boys.

Finished off with a great cover and inlay this is a significant and original recording. I am not sure how well it can be reproduced live but nobody criticizes Sergeant Pepper because the Beatles did not play it live.

Do not miss this one.

David Thorpe

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This album was reviewed in Issue 53 of The Living Tradition magazine.