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JIM MORAY - The Outlander 

JIM MORAY - The Outlander 
Managed Decline MD001 

This is Jim Moray visiting a more traditional end of the spectrum than he’s previously inhabited, and as you might expect, he’s brought his wide experience to date to bear on the songs he’s chosen to sing. So, the accompaniments are unmistakably contemporary, and the singing style is pure Moray. Nonetheless, the songs are treated respectfully and have lost nothing of their ability to tell a story well in the right hands. Added to this are Jim’s considerable production skills.

Most of these songs are old friends, sung by many of us over the years, but you’ll hear them differently here, with bright and imaginative accompaniments and a more modern, pop and jazz influenced vocal interpretation that’s also been coloured by listening to many folk icons. This could have been a risky strategy, but the songs do sound good, and they make you listen to the stories – and for me that’s the yardstick for a singer’s success or failure. The names of several of the backing musicians will be familiar in their own right, so the standard is high; they know not to get in the way of the lyrics, and they provide good mood-setting and commentary. A good example of how the songs work is The Bramble Briar, aka Bruton Town, which, having been through Ewan MacColl’s hands and then Jim’s, sounds a long way from Mrs Overd’s original; but I enjoyed it. The star track, deservedly, is Lord Gregory (duetted with Josienne Clarke).

So, we have a really interesting product, well worth a listen or ten.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine