Jack Rutter – Gold Of Scar And Shale: Album Review

Release Date: 4th October 2019

Label: Jack Rutter Music via Proper Distribution

Formats: CD, DL

The follow up to Jack’s debut album, Hills, finds him in a similar place. No frills, just a man and a guitar singing songs in a studio with the expertise of Joe Rusby at the desk and a few friends adding their two penn’orth. It might sound simple but it works.

It’s also worth a reminder that Hills debut was an album that even Jon Boden compared to the great folk albums of the Seventies so there’s something to be said for going back to basics. Back in the day, even MTV had their finger on the pulse with their unplugged series. Of course, the rustic approach seems quite natural for folk musicians as does the hunting and gathering of traditional songs and tunes that provide the fuel for this latest set.

Jack’s not totally exposed in the spotlight though, being able to pull out the bouzouki, concertina and harmonium and also call on some illustrious names for the occasional cameo: Sam Sweeney adds some fiddle, Alice Robinson provides Northumbrian pipes and Sam Fisher the flugelhorn. All in all, it provides a broad sound palette that does nothing to detract from the voice and the words whose strong sense of place is rooted very firmly in his native Yorkshire. With Jack Rutter, you’ll find him never too far from a drystone wall, country lane or field, possibly on Ilkley Moor (baht ‘at) armed and ready with his guitar.

In fact, it’s the words of The Moorland Poet by Ammon Wrigley that Jack puts to his own tune on The Hills Of Longdendale that provide the evocative album title and the key phrase that sums up the rugged nature of the landscape that’s reflected in the songs. The new set swings from the bright and lively to the more solemn and some songs “I knew I wanted to sing.”

The Lancashire Liar sees Rutter biting the bullet and singing about the deadly rivals from over the Pennies as the Sweeney ‘lead’ fiddle drives a song that namechecks various Lancky locales. It’s a musical treat repeated on The Brundeanlaws, where even Jack admits that “the fiddle accompaniment really makes me joyful.” It contrasts starkly with the sombre tale of Yorkshireman John White, a soldier who died of the injuries sustained from 300 lashes. Makes you wonder and possibly will induce dash to a suitable source to discover what heinous act deserved such punishment.

Musically, the fleetingly brief moments of delightful pastoral guitar picking vie with the more dramatic aura that accompanies The Sledmere Poachers and the strident Shepherd’s Song while it feels totally apt that we’re welcomed back to the moorlands in the final coda of Fieldfares.

Often a team player where he’s more than played his part, it’s great to see Jack continue his solo journey as captain of his own little brigade. You may even pick up a tip or two on holiday locations in Northumberland or recommended pubs to visit to make Gold Of Scar And Shale a completely rounded album.

Watch the video for The Lancashire Liar from the album:

Jack Rutter online:

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