‘Nothing at All’ from Jigfoot(October 10, 2011)
There’s something uniquely reassuring about English dance tunes. Perhaps it’s their fragile resilience in an increasingly less-than-permanent world, possibly it’s their ability to evoke cultural memory or maybe they’re just ‘feel-good’ music. Whatever it is, these tunes encapsulate much of this country’s folk heritage – the only caveat is they must be played well and that’s why you should listen to ‘Nothing at All’ from Jigfoot. They deliver reworked traditional tunes that jump and leap with infinite energy - and what’s more, they are excellent musicians.
‘Nothing at All’ is the band’s first CD release and if capability and content are any measure it will not be the last. They describe their music as: ‘mixing traditional folk with gypsy jazz and undertones of baroque’ - that may be, I prefer a more rudimentary description: ‘dance tunes with oomph’. ‘Nothing at All’ is a fine collection of Morris, hornpipe and session tunes with a step dance, ballad and wassail thrown in for good measure - each given an enhancing edge that makes Jigfoot so eminently listenable. The tunes are magic, from the spritely energy of ‘Gloucester Hornpipe’ and ‘Old Tom of Oxford’ through the self assured exuberance of ‘Glorishears’ with its myriad accents; to the formal fabric of ‘Scan Tester’s Country Stepdance’. There’s also the engaging Dorset broadside ballad ‘Nothing at All’ and the wassail ‘Good Ale’, and to round out the album that great session frolic ‘Morgan Rattler’.
This album is abundant evidence, were any needed, that vigorous life remains in English dance tunes, hence the extended ‘Morris On’ dynasty. Well someone else has joined that lineage now and that’s Jigfoot – who will doubtless take their place as superb exponents of the art.
Jigfoot are Nic Bradford (guitar, vocals) Ben Potton (violin) Gill Redmond (cello) Kim Sheil (melodeon) and Cath Watkins (violin, vocals). ‘Nothing at All’ from Jigfoot (www.jigfoot.com) is available from Melting Pot MELTP9CD (www.meltingpot.org.uk).
Reviewer: Dan Holland