‘Poor Strange Girl’ from Alice Jones - traditional songs interweaved with original tunes

(June 20, 2016)

If you want to hear the English folk tradition delivered as it should be then take time with the debut solo album from singer, multi-instrumentalist and dancer Alice Jones. The mix of tradition from both sides of the Atlantic can only come from a profound understanding of and empathy for England’s the folk tradition augmented by an abiding interest in and Poor Strange Girlaffinity for American folk.

When you listen to ‘Poor Strange Girl’, and you definitely should, you will be treated to songs and tunes from a dual heritage and the vibrant interpretations Alice applies to their presentation. Within the album, tradition sits comfortably alongside invention, songs collected by such worthies as Sharp, Kidson, Frank and Anne Warner interweave perfectly with self-penned original tunes.

Alice Jones possesses a clear and inimitable voice that brings out the essence of each song, sympathetic to the narrative and the message. Her compassionate arrangements bring traditional material into a contemporary focus without ever compromising the integrity of the legacy. Her tunes demonstrate both clear affinity for her chosen instruments and a consummate flair for composition with ‘The Larkman/ The Herron Tree’ and ‘Wedding Mazurkas’. Songs like ‘Poor Strange Girl’ collected by Sharp from Kentucky, the multi-versioned ‘The Cruel Mother’ an arresting version of ‘Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still’ and a riveting take on ‘Adieu to Old England’ all benefit from this lady’s striking voice, which once heard falls squarely into the realm of ‘unforgettable’.

Playing on ‘Poor Strange Girl’ alongside Alice Jones (vocals, piano, harmonium, whistle, tenor guitar) are Tom Kitching (fiddle) and Hugh Bradley (double bass).

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Review: Tim Carroll

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