Review:'James, Hannah & the Jigdoll Ensemble' 'The Woman and Her Words'
- Genre: 'Folk'
- Release Date: '4th October 2019'
It’s fair to say I’m no folk nut, but I’ll give anything a fair listen. Built primarily around supple rhythms and layered string arrangements, the 10 songs on ‘The Woman and Her Words’ have their roots very much within traditional folk music of Anglo-Irish origin, although Hanna’s perspective is keenly outward-facing.
Declaring herself as feeling European rather than specifically English, Hannah – multi-instrumentalist and a key figure in the revival of English percussive dance, and area I know nothing about - has gathered a collective of musicians from Hungary, Estonia, Scotland, and France to record an album in Budapest.
And in seeking to forge a certain rootlessness, James has created a space that transcends borders. ‘The Woman and Her Words’ carries more lyrical weight than its accessible tunes necessarily convey, but this is very much a strength. And much as it’s traditional in form, contemporary currents run strong through both the delivery and the lyrics, and no more so than on the title track, a ten-minute narrative tale that picks apart the pain of struggling - and failing – to manage family life and the work/life balance in the now.
James’ ability to swing between such narrative pieces and more conventional song-lyric vignettes, which are by nature more succinct, makes clear her versatility and quality as a composer and lyricist, and contribute in no small way to the charm of ‘The Woman and Her Words’.