Folk and Roots

Published in Folk and Roots

“Well the band name kinda leads you to expect Americana I guess, but in fact what we get (and the strongest clue comes with the tracklist) is 50 minutes of very well-played and very well-arranged traditional folk, mostly tune-sets with a few songs tossed in at strategic points. The accompanying press release calls it “power-folk” – but even that term rather misleadingly conjures up steaming electric-folk-rockery.
Actually it’s proudly all-acoustic, except that is for some guest electric guitar on a couple of tracks: for here The Jones Boys (which is actually two boys and a girl, if we wish to be pedantic!) grant us a sparklingly clear-toned sequence of tunes and songs, all of traditional origin. Mandolin and guitar glitter like that proverbial sun, with shards of light piercing the ether and sprinkling their creative faery-dust all over the shop. Ian Carey (mandolin and “mandriola”, a type of 12-string mandolin), Gordon Jackson (more mandos, whistles, bass, percussion) and Sam Sloan (button accordion, anglo concertina) have all evidently been playing this kind of material for many years, and it shows in their tight togetherness and their overall, obviously highly accomplished standard of musicianship. They have a keen ear for retaining openness of texture, and display no intent to clutter with excessive numbers of notes or over-dazzle with fulsome tonal eccentricity, and are thus doubly welcome. The only relative (but entirely forgivable) indulgences come with an atmospheric, decidedly Gothic take on Lyke Wake Dirge (complete with psycho-electric guitar and brooding chanting) and a riffingly decent version of Ship In Distress (acoustic Purple anyone? – now there’s where that “power-folk” tag might come in!).

Elsewhere, it’s dextrous instrumental prowess allied to a genuinely musical response to the tunes’ melodies, however well-trodden some of the choices may be. Prepare to be stunned into submission by Sam’s nifty button-wielding on the mighty Tam Lin/Dogs Among The Bushes set, for example… Oh, and Gordon’s singing ain’t at all bad either (he turns in convincing renditions of The Fowler and The Unquiet Grave). In the end, the album leaves a good strong impression, although it takes a few tracks before its full measure gets to make that impact stick; but it sure is a disc for going back to.”

The Jones Boys play highly accomplished traditional music from Ireland, England, Scotland, Brittany, Sweden, Bulgaria …

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