James Findlay released his Fellside Records debut Sport and Play earlier this year. James was the 2009 winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, despite the tough competition he made the biggest impression with a voice you’d associate more with classic tradtional English folk singers such as Nic Jones and the late Tony Rose. Jon Boden of Bellowhead who was on the judging panel was more than impressed:
Bloody hell, what a voice!’ was my first thought as he launched into his two songs. He’s warmly charismatic with that sparkle of personality that draws a crowd along with him.
Apart from great vocal delivery James also plays a very fine fiddle and guitar. He is ably supported by Alex Cumming’s on accordion and Jame’s sister Lucy Findlay providing harmony vocals. He opens with Jolly Joe The Collier’s Son a song he first heard the late Tony Rose singing. One track which made a big impression was Black Hills of Mendip. A song written by James Findlay’s good friend Jerry Bird. The mining industry of Somerset is not something you hear a lot about, being better known for its quarries. The song is based around Pensford pit in Chew Valley which isn’t that far from where we are based…so I may have been a little biased. The track also highlights his dexterity with guitar as well as demonstrate a good ear for feeling out a suitable musical arrangement, accompanied by accordion.
James was very daring to include an a cappella version of Tam Lin which, let’s face it, is a marathon of a folk song that clocks in at just under a lengthy nine minutes. He manages to pull it off with great panache showing he has strong vocal delivery that will challenge any noisy crowd. His guitar playing on George Collins is reminiscent of the style of Martin Carthy or Nic Jones. His influences are very clear in places but he also has developed his own style which, by all accounts, comes across very well on stage. He is clearly well heeled in English folk music and has played fiddle since the age of 8 and guitar since he was 15.
For a debut album Sport & Play lives up to the fine performance that won him the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards but I do feel we are gaining just a small glimpse of James Findlay’s fine talents. There is no rush, being only 20 he has a bright future ahead of him and will find many fans across the English folk circuit.
Jolly Joe The Collier’s Son;
Black Hills Of Mendip;
Sorry The Day I Was Married;
Dives And Lazarus;
I’m A Rover;
When A Man’s In Love;
Fair Mary Of Wallington;
The White Cockade;
Lakes of Shilin;