Review | Songlines

Up the Cut

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details


Jon Wilks


Grizzly Folk


For Black Country native Jon Wilks’ third album he has eschewed the fuller arrangements of 2018’s Midlife for a lean set of traditional Midland songs from the archives of Steve Roud and Francis James Child, sung with acoustic guitar accompaniment. The decision to strip back was wise as it gives these wonderful songs, performed impeccably throughout, plenty of room to breathe and for the stories to be heard with minimum fuss. That said, the guitar playing is clear, precise and tuneful, with complex lines and clever flourishes in places, adding brushes of colour.

The songs themselves have been lovingly selected, with significant help from the late folklorist and researcher Roy Palmer. Picks include the Child murder ballad ‘Edward’, dating back to the mid-1700s, here played with an undulating rhythm and sang with gruff warmth. ‘The Jovial Hunter of Bromsgrove’ is another cracker, full of characters and dry wit, and it’s clear Wilks is having plenty of fun performing it. There really isn’t anything close to a dud here; all ten songs are memorable and have been treated with the utmost respect. Packaged beautifully with extensive notes, this generous and hugely satisfying album is hard to fault.

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