Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra - D’rect from the Shire

2017 studio album

D’rect from the Shire - Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra

the bright young folk review

Djukella means mongrel in the former Yugoslavia, and seems an appropriate name for the rich mix of musical styles and backgrounds on this album. Indeed, to add to this variety, the band has played all over the world.

D’rect from the Shire is a live album, showcasing the energy of frontman Jez Hellard, and his skill at connecting with his audience and the members of his band. As well as singing, he plays guitar and harmonica, and is joined by Alastair Caplain (violin, viola, vocals), James Gavin (violin, vocals), Dominic Henderson (uilleann pipes, whistles), Tommie Black-Roff (accordion, vocals), and Nye Parsons (double bass).

The individual members of the band are given the chance to introduce themselves musically in the very first track, Canned Goods, where they are each given a brief solo. The song is a charming, nostalgic song, praising the glories of grandma’s kitchen. It is also very infectious and will have the listener singing along in no time.

Several protest songs are included on the album, dealing with contemporary issues. Pass It Along gently reminds us we are merely custodians and should take care of those things in our care, beginning with the example of a guitar, but broadening out into looking after our country. The accompaniment is mainly guitar and strings.

Nancy Kerr’s anti-war song Songbirds is delivered with more energy. Real Revolution is also driven by guitars, with the fiddles taking over between the verses. This song was inspired by an unplanned visit to Bristol Cathedral, and a Bible verse about turning swords into ploughshares that Hellard came across while there.

Borders contains a lovely pipes solo, and deals with the plight of refugees and the unfair distribution of wealth - sadly timeless issues.

There are lighter moments though. In the Atlas Tango, Nye Parsons’ double bass takes the lead, and the piece becomes a delightfully sleazy duet with Hellard on harmonica. High strings take up the baton with the double bass still as a foundation before the harmonica returns to finish things off. The audience obviously really enjoyed it!

D’rect from the Shire captures the atmosphere of the live performance, and is an illustration of the talent of a fine bunch of musicians.

Shelley Rainey

Released on Djukella Records 6 November 2017.

1. Canned Goods
2. The Water Song
3. Humours Set
4. Borders
5. Atlas Tango
6. Pass It Along
7. The Gavinator
8. Not Safe With a Razor Set
9. Songbirds
10. Swords into Ploughshares
11. Real Revolution
12. A Kind of Loneliness

Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra discography