Three years on from their Daisy Roots debut, the Midlands-based five-piece The Jigantics are back with Seconds Out, an equally impressive sophomore outing. They line up as Mark Cole (harmonica, accordion), Rick Edwards (guitars) and Lyndon Webb (bass, piano, mandolin strings and guitars) from blues outfit Sons of the Delta. Alongside them are Martin Fitzgibbon and Marion Fleetwood who respectively formerly provided drums and fiddle for Colvin Quarmby, and the music variously embraces blues, country, folk and roots rock on a mix of self-penned numbers and covers.
Alison Krauss’s back catalogue provides the starting point for Fleetwood singing lead on a faithful reading of Take Me For Longing. Faithful is the last word you’d use about the second track. Inspired would be a better description for their deconstruction of Billy Idol’s 1983 (it wasn’t a hit until 1985) youth anthem Rebel Yell reinvented as a moody strummed 12 string acoustic and distant harmonica jazzy folk blues with Cole on vocals and Fleetwood providing harmonies.
The third cover in a row is another classic of its genre, Fleetwood’s pure vocal conjuring images of mists and heather on a simple, Celtic tinted Richard Shindell’s civil war lament Reunion Hill. Completing the first batch of covers is another rework, Webb sings lead on The Steeldrivers’ growly bluegrass Blue Side of the Mountain, keeping the Appalachian influence, but giving it a stomps and handclaps work song makeover with wailing harp and an underpinning banjo.
The first of the original material arrives with the Fitzgibbon/Cole number, Radio, a rollicking pub rock chorus-friendly radio and romance story song chugger that, Cole on lead, sports such influences as Dave Edmunds and, hey, maybe even the Kursaal Flyers.
It’s back to covers with Fitzgibbon, Fleetwood, Webb and (his sole vocal appearance) Edwards respectively sharing verses on Sydney Carter’s slow, sober 60s protest song The Crow On The Cradle, a haunting anti-war juxtaposition of lullaby and the nuclear threat.
I have to confess to being considerably less familiar with the hugely catchy Out On The Road Tonight, but a little digging around reveals it to be a song by Canadian alt-country quartet The Claytones from their 2012 debut Lake In The Night. The original’s a full-blooded hairy-chested guitar country rocker, but here, with Webb on mandolin, there’s a much lighter, but no less infectious bluegrass touch. Conversely, Ryan Adams’s self-reflective and relatively laid back Invisible Riverside has a spookier folk-blues mood with resonant acoustic guitar, piano, and slide.
The last of the covers, James Grant’s slow and moody I Will Not Wear The Willow, is another inspired choice. Recently popularised by Karen Matheson, it gets a big seven-minute production here, opening with Fleetwood playing mournful fiddle before she starts singing, backed by Webb on sparse piano and, notably, a rare appearance on guest backing vocals from the legendary Christine Collister.
The remaining three tracks are written or co-written by Fitzgibbon. Frankly, the album’s most overtly political number, is a punchy, mandolin-strummed, Anglo-American roots rock swipe at corporate greed, tax dodgers and today’s all for me culture. Steeped in British pub blues rock swaggerer, the Fitzgibbon/Cole Hate To See You Go Love To Watch You Walk Away is equally uptempo, albeit worryingly slightly Chas n Dave.
A leaving song of a different kind, the album ends quietly with just two acoustic guitars and Fitzgibbon on aching vocals for the near seven-minute Angels Wings, a break-up song of love and loss that builds to a terrific extended finger-picked solo finale courtesy of studio engineer Aaron Taylor.
As you’ll know, the album title and sleeve photo refer to the start of a boxing bout. Appropriately enough, this is a knockout.
Out Now on Rawtone Records
Order here: www.thejigantics.com/shop