We have a special video premiere today from singer, musician and producer Jim Moray. Fair Margaret And Sweet William is the opening track from his forthcoming new album Upcetera, an album he describes as being like “learning to do it all again from scratch”. He told us that Fair Margaret and Sweet William is “a version of Child Ballad 74 – one of the oldest and first mentioned in 1611 in Francis Beaumont’s play Knight Of The Burning Pestle. The video was filmed around Bristol and Cornwall as an ordinary day with a twist at the end (the clues are there!..)”
Upcetera is an album of stories. Some of these songs, such as opening track Fair Margaret And Sweet William, first noted in 1411, are hundreds of years old. Others, like the self-penned Sounds Of Earth, written about the gold record curated by Carl Sagan and placed on the Voyager spacecraft, are brand new. Upcetera places the narrative element of these songs centre stage, with Jim’s supple soaring vocal leading the listener by the hand through ancient and modern tales.
Drawing influence from the systems music of composers like Nyman and Reich, Upcetera features dramatically orchestrated Child ballads reimagined as torch songs or a kind of English Fado. Jim’s spellbinding version of the traditional schooner shanty The Flying Cloud is a collaboration with Viola Da Gamba player Liam Byrne, who’s worked with Damon Albarn, Valgeir Sigurðsson and Nico Muhly. While most of the instrumentation was performed by Moray himself the album also features contributions from Dave Smith (Robert Plant, JuJu) on drums, Chris Hillman (Billy Bragg) on pedal steel guitar, Matt Downer on double bass, Jess Morgan on vocals and Jo Silverston and Anna Jenkins (The Unthanks, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker) on cello and violin.
13 years ago Jim Moray released an album that changed the way people perceived, played and presented English folk music. Sweet England arrived at a time when, with a few notable exceptions, traditional music was performed much as it had been in the 1970s to an audience of insiders and aficionados. The album was received with welcoming arms by those who understood that the music of the people has survived for centuries by being just that – an expression of the times. Absent were the familiar affectations of those who sought to preserve an invented historical aesthetic; Jim Moray was a Bowie and Blur fan singing ballads with all of his influences unfurled.
The records that followed (Jim Moray, Low Culture, In Modern History, Skulk) embraced everything from electronica to Johnny Marr-esque guitar rock via symphonic pop, an award winning XTC cover and grime. But at their heart has always been Jim’s unmistakeable soulful and yearning voice; singing old songs in a new way.
In 2014 Jim joined up with the ardently admired songwriter and guitarist Sam Carter to form the band False Lights. On a mission to make a glorious folk rock ruckus that owed more to Radiohead and Queens Of The Stone Age than Steeleye Span, False Lights picked up a Best Album nomination in the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for their debut LP Salvor.
This year Jim presented a documentary on BBC Radio 3 about the traditional song Brigg Fair, which saw Jim use cutting-edge sound technology to recreate the apocryphal moment when farm bailiff Joseph Taylor spontaneously added his voice to the premiere of Delius’ An English Rhapsody, which was inspired by a wax cylinder recording of Taylor’s singing. A more appropriate subject for Moray to tackle is hard to imagine.
At a time when the bright new lights of traditional music include Stick In The Wheel and Lynched, who come from the distinctly un-folk worlds of drum ‘n’ bass and punk respectively, Jim Moray’s dream that more people would discover and play these songs on their own terms and in their own voice is at last becoming a reality.
The title of this album is Jim’s way of describing the genre of music he belongs to. He’s not a traditional singer in the academically understood sense but neither does he fit the accepted idea of a contemporary folk musician. He was searching for a word that could encompass June Tabor and Jeff Buckley, The Blue Nile and Purcell. And that’s Upcetera.
Upcetera is out on Sept 30th, on Jim’s own label NIAG, partnering with Absolute Label Services. It can be ordered from his website at: jimmoray.co.uk/upcetera
Jim Moray Tour Dates
|09Sep2016||Bristol||The Tobacco Factory Theatre||BUY TICKET – £14|
|16Sep2016||Priston, nr. Bath||Priston Festival||BUY TICKET|
|21Oct2016||Hartlepool||Hartlepool Folk Festival||BUY TICKET|
|04Nov2016||Orpington||The Liberal Club||BUY TICKET|
|05Nov2016||London||The Winemakers Club||BUY TICKET|
|06Nov2016||Settle||Victoria Hall||BUY TICKET|
|09Nov2016||Leicester||The Musician||BUY TICKET|
|11Nov2016||Chester||Upstairs At The Lock Keeper||BUY TICKET|
|18Nov2016||Exeter||Exeter Folk And Acoustic Club||BUY TICKET|
|19Nov2016||Cheltenham||Everyman Theatre||BUY TICKET|
|20Nov2016||Hitchin||Hitchin Folk Club||BUY TICKET|
|25Nov2016||Norwich||Folk Club||BUY TICKET|
|09Dec2016||Bournemouth||The Shelley Theatre||BUY TICKET|