Saturday, 2 February 2008

CD Review - Jon Bickley

House Carpenter

By M. D. Spenser

Unfortunately for Blues lovers, this album owes as much to traditional English folk as it does to Blues. And that adds a touch of dreariness that makes this album a chore to listen to.

Bickley styles himself a poet as well as a songwriter. But he should take to heart an observation by the poet Ezra Pound: “The poem fails when it strays too far from the song, and the song fails when it strays too far from the dance.”

Most of these songs, believe me, are a hell of a long way from the dance.

Take the lugubrious five-minute number called, ‘She Moved Through The Fair’ – a traditional song that is boring beyond all measure: The couple plan to get married. She walks off through the fair. Then she dies.

The tale is punctuated by ultra-slow, self-important strumming, conveying the idea that there’s deep meaning in there somewhere. But it’s an emperor’s new clothes type of thing.

Throughout the album, Bickley accompanies himself on guitar and mandolin; he’s a competent player. And the Blues numbers offer some relief from the tedium.

‘Wolf Mountain Blues’, an original, features a very slow-stepping base line. “Well, tonight I am as lonely/As a wolf prowling in the trees,” Bickley sings. “These teeth keep people/Away from me.”

Man, that’s deep. And the song only gets deeper from there, but I’ll spare you.

Blues fans might want to give this one a pass.

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