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JEZ LOWE - Crazy Pagan 

JEZ LOWE - Crazy Pagan 
Tantobie Records TTRCD0120 

Crazy Pagan is an album born out of lockdown. Deprived of his touring livelihood, Jez was confined to “so-Lowe” life in isolation at home, but this didn’t stop him from making music, surrounded by a veritable array of instruments and armed with a batch of recent songs. Needless to say, it’s yet another fine set, each song instantly recognisable as quintessentially Jez with characteristic twisty melodies and gleefully canny turns of phrase.

Inevitably, people and places figure large here: Shaking Monty tells of Jez’s latter-day encounter with a childhood football hero, while Louisa’s Choosing is an affectionate and touching tribute to the late singing legend, Louisa Jo Killen. Coal Mountain (familiar from Jez’s shows with the Pitmen Poets) echoes the songs of the former mining communities in places like Jez’s hometown, Easington Colliery. Place-related nostalgia goes ‘hand in hand’ with personal nostalgia on the likely-part-autobiographical High Handenhold, which knowingly references Jethro Tull. There’s even something of a Tull feel to Three Indian Kings, the song whose lyric gives the album its title, whose reflections are triggered by imaginings of shady goings-on at that 19th century Tyneside tavern. And Loon In The Moon’s “substitute” motif provides an apt introit for Jez’s homage to the madcap Who drummer.

Farmer Sun comments on the land-use changes brought about by increased use of solar and wind power, while the disc’s most directly political outing is the angry and edgy protest song, This Is Not My Tribe, written at the time of our last general election. In contrast, Talk To Me Dirty In Geordie (recorded live last year) is a hilarious ditty chock full of laugh-out-loud moments.

But the whole of Crazy Pagan is replete with memorable phrases, and brilliant observations like “life’s not a long song, it’s a slow walk through fast-flowing days”. Nonetheless, may you live long and prosper, Jez.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 137 of The Living Tradition magazine