Link to Living Tradition Homepage





TIM ERIKSEN - Soul Of The January Hills

Soul Of The January Hills
Appleseed Recordings  APRCD1120

It’s summer 2008. Tim Eriksen is singing and teaching at the Jaroslaw Festival in Poland and staying at an abbey. He gets a key from a priest, ascends a tower on the perimeter wall, plugs in his recorder, and comes out just over an hour later with this album of 14 unaccompanied songs. One take with no edits. Sometimes the boldest thing is to go right back to basics.

A long journey brought him to that tower. Tim made his name with his punk band Cordelia’s Dad in the 1990s.  As his interest in American folksong developed, so their music got purer and leaner. He went solo but continued on the same road. He is a fine banjo player and guitarist, but has travelled back to the original folk instrument of the solo voice.

Every song is a happy marriage of passion and technical skills. The delivery is measured and the words are clear. There are American versions of great British ballads and songs: John Randolph (which we know as Lord Randal); Gallows Tree (Prickly Bush); Two Babes (The Cruel Mother); and A Soldier Travelling From The North (The Light Dragoon). Others are from the Sacred Harp and Shapenote traditions of religious song: Son of God, Amazing Grace, Hope, Wrestling Jacob and Better Days Coming.  As so often, I would have liked more information about the songs in the liner notes.  For instance, the opener, As I Travel, is an intriguing mix of the secular and the religious, and I would have loved to be told where and who it came from.

Tim thinks that unaccompanied singing is ready for a comeback in America, and hopes that this album will be a catalyst. In Britain we have a decent crop of younger unaccompanied singers, but it’s very much a minority sport. They have a hard road to travel with little prospect of renown and less of riches. I hope they will be encouraged and inspired by this brave and bonny album.

Tony Hendry

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 87 of The Living Tradition magazine.