‘St Giles Bowl’ debut album from Tim Jones & The Dark Lanterns - classic folk-narrative fare(February 25, 2015)
The threads of traditional English folk run shining and clear through every track on ‘St Giles Bowl’, the debut album from Tim Jones & The Dark Lanterns. The weave of heritage is so strong you have to keep reminding yourself this is folk music written in these years not folk trawled from the mists of time. Waves of soft acoustic echoes couple with pulses of folk rock touches and together place ‘St Giles Bowl’ finely into today’s English folk legacy.
The album opens with a whirling klezmer-influenced ‘One Of A Thousand Men’ referencing roguery, death and the graveyard, before the sing-a-long gallows-tale of ‘St Giles Bowl’ adds drinking to the proceedings, followed by themes of bewitchment, shape-shifting and murder in ‘Her Long Red Hair’ – taken together, all classic folk-narrative fare. The necessary elements are there in abundance – warm-toned, generously distinct vocals, layered guitar, mandolin, melodeon and fiddle, plus driving bass and drums to expand the folk rock elements. The mix continues through the gentle reflection of a modern story-song ‘No More A Darkness’, the tale of ‘Gallows Ground’ holding within its dark sadness a palpable sense of another time, complete with chattering birdsong ‘Interlude-The Wounded Hussar’ is a short but intriguing link to the darkly ominous ‘Robinson’ with its haunting instrumentation and mournful vocals.
There’s a drum-driven, melodeon rush to ‘Westminster’ to make a statement that many should heed, while ‘Fair Normandy’ is another one of those songs that although of a generation fighting with rifles evokes a memory of a time when soldiers with similar outlooks fought with swords. Without fearing too much contradiction, Tim Jones & The Dark Lanterns have got their chosen style off to a fine art. If you want to hear ‘living tradition’ this is an album worth listening to because it carries the mark of English folk music stamped hard. And by way of a pleasant change, the lyrics are printed on the enclosed booklet.
Tim Jones & The Dark Lanterns are Tim Jones (lead vocal, guitar) Melissa Smith (vocals, mandolin, glockenspiel, tin whistle, ukulele) Ted Kemp (vocal, banjo, melodeon) Robin Timmis (vocals, violin, percussion, guitar) Bedwyr Gruffydd (bass) and James Fairmond (vocals, drums, percussion).
‘St Giles Bowl’ releases 1 March on Cotton Mill Records find album and band here: cottonmillrecords.co.uk/pages/darklanterns
Reviewer: Tim Carroll