Poor Strange Girl is an excellent showcase of Alice Jones’ many and varied talents, from her engaging vocals and multi-instrumental skills to her ear for selecting fine songs and tunes spanning the breadth of traditional English music, and beyond. Having listened to and enjoyed this album, listeners will come away having being treated to a selection of traditional music expertly delivered by this talented new folk artist.
Jones’ vocals are pure, clear and authentic to her Yorkshire roots. In her music you sense a deep appreciation and understanding of the stories and people behind each song. Some tracks will be recognised as coming from the historical collections of Sharp, Kidson and the Warners, whilst some have been written more recently, and others collected from further afield.
Piano playing and vocals are exquisite in Woody Knows Nothing, a tale of nature and love originally from the singing of Erik Darling. Jones’ arrangement and delivery brings a warm and reflective glow to this gentle American folktale.
The pace picks up in Wedding Mazurkas, a set of two tunes, self-written, as gifts for the weddings of two friends. These are joyful and uplifting tunes played on the whistle and accompanied on harmonium and double bass.
A dark and atmospheric rendition of the murder ballad, The Cruel Mother, with droning harmonium, menacing fiddle and haunting harmonies, is testament to Jones’s talents in delivering a memorable performance of this traditional classic.
Castle by The Sea, whilst also a somewhat dark story, is a surprisingly upbeat song in which the lady triumphs against the evil and cruelty of a false lover. Again, Jones delivers an enjoyable and vocally captivating performance of this excellent song.
Adieu to Old England is treated to a fresh, almost bluesy, interpretation. Jones has brought an additional relevance and modernity to this well-loved song, whose lyrics about changing fortunes and fond memories remain as poignant today as when it was originally written.
Poor Strange Girl is an impressive album of traditional songs and tunes, carefully chosen, arranged and performed by a talented vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, who breathes life and soul into her music. Whilst there are many highlights on this album, every track has its own significant merit. On the basis of this excellent first album we will be hearing a lot more from Alice Jones, and she will be known for great things within traditional music.Andy McMillan
Released on Splid Records on 10 June 2016.
Produced by Jon Loomes and Alice Jones.
1. Poor Strange Girl
2. Woody Knows Nothing
3. The Larkman / The Heron Tree
4. The Cruel Mother
5. Green Bushes
6. Wedding Mazurkas
7. Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still
8. When I am Far Away
9. Digerpolskan / The Duhk Strut Reel
10. Adieu to Old England
11. The Castle By The Sea
12. Long, Long Trail A-Winding