Doolally - Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies

Tantobi Records

My first listen to Tom-Tom from The Parish Notices, the 1998 quintessential album by Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies taught me there's more to folk music of the British Isles than black-haired lasses, jilted laddies and long walks in the country. Through clever, insightful verse, Jez examined the ancient message of the drum in relation to our age of satellite communications. As it happens, I wasn't the only one enthralled by Jez's lyrical prowess. His songs are even studied as part of the curriculum of some British,Canadian and US schools. Students will have a field day with his new release, Doolally, 12 more crafty tales about life in Northeast England with a view to the surrounding world.The center of speculation will undoubtedly be the track, Vikings. Set to a bubbly bluegrass beat, the song might muse at the return of the longboats to England's shores, "Big fellas, long yellow hair framed grins, they all look like the singer out of Led Zeppelin". Or, it might take a gentle jab at British and US foreign policy, "Picking on the little people, isn't that the way of the world today? That's what the Vikings say." Doolally is sharp folk songwriting at its best.