In Modern History - Jim Moray
If the Harry Potter books were ever made into a musical (and don’t rule that one out), Jim Moray would be the natural choice to score it. This young innovator of English folk music has crystallized the vivid mythology and classic themes of good and evil, love and loss, mystery and intrigue; spinning these tales in a voice that rings with a youthful purity, valor and wisdom beyond his years, echoing the greatest of contemporary literary heroes. Through the course of 4 splendid albums, Moray has ear-marked the most sweeping, the most colourful and the spookiest legends in English folk for his thoroughly contemporary arrangements and treatments. From Sweet England to his latest, In Modern History, the twenty-something artist/producer has soaked timeless melodies in a wash of acoustic and electronic textures, adding new life, dimension and relevance. Judging from In Modern History’s material, Moray has absorbed so much of English folk tradition that he can now add his own compositions to the genre with credibility and panache. Four of the nine selections on the disc were penned by his hand alone. They are also four of the most outstanding tracks. In Modern History opens with Bristol Harbour, a rocker that easily could have been adapted from the great folk songbook. Hard is a gorgeous story of unrequited love set in a cotemporary Celtic arrangement, Cold Stone revives a stunning combination of melodeon, hurdy gurdy and cittern which he introduced us to on his previous recording, Low Culture. And, the closer, Home On The Hill takes us back to Sweet England with a longing for the land; another theme that resonates throughout the history of British folk. In between, classics like Jenny Of The Moor, The Lowlands Of Holland and Silver Dagger emerge from the dust resplendent in atmospheres of mellotron, guitars and orchestrations courtesy of the musicians of Opera North. Each new album from Jim Moray arrives with a sense of celebration and anticipation, like the next Harry Potter movie. Both promise ripping adventure filled with wonderful characters, heart-tugging emotions and voices that ring true both in modern history and enduring fiction.