Kim Lowings and the Greenwood – Wild & Wicked Youth
Self Released – 8 September 2017
Wild & Wicked Youth, the third full-length release by Stourbridge’s dulcimer-playing folkie Kim Lowings, builds on the groundwork laid down by This Life and Historia for what deservedly promises to be her most successful yet.
Backed as ever by father Andrew on guitar, bouzouki and bodhran, Dave Sutherland on double bass and Tim Rogers on cajon and percussion with contributions from melodeonist Lewis Jones and both Shannon Johnson and Ami Oprenova on violin, it again mingles traditional numbers with self-penned material.
It’s one such that gets the ball rolling, In Spirit quite literally a siren song sung in the voice of a suicide cursed to return as a ghost luring men to their deaths, the jaunty tune decidedly at odds with the lyrics. The first of the traditional tunes come with the sprightly acoustic strum of Oyster Girl. It’s a playful tale of a French tourist being taken in by the titular oyster seller, renting a pub room to have sport only to find she’s picked his pocket and left him with the oysters. Still, English fair play does mean she pays for the room before scarpering.
Farewell, My Love So Dear takes the pacing down, Sutherland and Lowings Sr. providing the deep, wordless chant over the lengthy metronomic intro before the tempo changes for a jazzier percussive rhythm sets in led by the double bass. I confess to not being able to track down the song’s source, although apparently, it’s a translation from the German.
That’s not a problem with The Cuckoo, a familiar folk staple, Johnson’s violin driving a particularly fiery reading with Lowings’ voice in fine fettle. With Jones on melodeon, things turn to shanty shapes for the swaying farewells of Bold Riley, a Norfolk tune which, launching a clutch of traditional numbers, has also formed part of Kate Rusby and the Oysterband’s repertoire.
Oh The Wind and Rain, a murder ballad more popularly known as The Twa (or Two) Sisters finds Johnson on violin and the lyrics again belying the bouncy tune with Lowings and the band giving it a suitably lusty treatment. This, in turn, is followed by Georje Holper’s Away Ye Merry Lassies, a crowd-friendly stomp-along that’s been part of their live set for some while. The final traditional tune is another staple of the genre, The Newry Highwayman, recounting the tale of the titular ‘roving blade’ who turns to crime, robbing only the rich, to keep his wife in the manner she has become accustomed. Joined by Johnson, it’s another full-bloodied number, and it’s from one of the song’s various alternative titles that the album takes its title.
Which leaves a further four Lowings originals, three gathered together at the centre of the track listings. Drawing on the classic fable, and featuring melodeon, The Tortoise and the Hare is a terrific sway-along relationship number about biding your time and looking before you leap. Looking at matters of the heart and staying true to the path forms the theme of Firestone, a spare and evocative piano soul searching ballad built around a soaring melodic chorus.
Carried by a jig melody assayed by Oprenova with Rogers laying down a military beat is another old live favourite finally making it to disc, the joyous Wyle Cop and the Wonderful Mr Clarke.
It all ends with the hymnal piano ballad Fly Away, arguably the finest songs she’s penned to date, which, interpolating the traditional gospel I’ll Fly Away at the end with everyone joining in on the backing vocals, is a truly beautiful lullaby from a parent to a child with the heart swelling lines:
Your wings they are not strong enough, they will tether and they will tatter.
Oh my dear child look at what I’ve found.
These boots they are so strong and tough they’ll keep you on the ground.
Though cold winds may blow and storms they may gather,
They’ll keep you grounded keep you safe and that is all that matters.
Lowings has been steadily climbing the folk league table since her Drifting Point EP debut back in 2011. Welcome to the first division.
For details of upcoming tour dates visit: https://www.kimlowings.com/tour
Pre-Order it here https://kimlowings.bandcamp.com/album/wild-wicked-youth