Jack Sharp from Wolf People releases an austere and stark debut, based round traditional music and words from his local county of Bedfordshire.
Release Date: 24th April 2020
Label: From Here Records
Formats: CD, DL
With the psych-folk-rock background of Wolf People, a solo departure from Jack Sharp is a mouthwatering prospect. As well as getting reviewed in PROG magazine, author Ben Myers has come up with wonderful descriptions of Wolf People as “aural archaeologists.” He’s nicknamed them ‘Fairport Unconventional’ and ‘Blake Sabbath’ and noted how they marry the archaic and the modern.
The latter provides our carefully planned segue into Good Times Older. A collection of songs rooted in Bedfordshire along with a couple of Jack’s originals.
There are going to be inevitable nods to Martin Carthy, particularly the guitar style as Jack works his way up, down and around the fretboard, coaxing out the notes and also to Nic Jones in acknowledging the English tradition. However, he adds a contemporary tweak with a production that’s very much in the no frills, to the bone, style of the From Here catalogue.
Talking of which, Nicola Kearey and Ian Carter of Stick In The Wheel add musical cameos and significant engineering and artwork for an musician they clearly rat. He’s already taken the honour of having the opening track on the first of their two English Folk Field Recordings albums. Edwin Ireland’s cello adds some darkness and depth and the lighter concertina touches come from Laura Smyth.
It’s the distinctive Carter guitar that makes the Stick In The Wheel sound unique, that also pushes the tempo on White Hare to the extent that Sharp hits a few moments where he’s gallantly hanging in there with the vocal.
For all that’s said for traditional songs, kudos to the modern folk storytellers though. Of his own songs, Soldier Song, in particular, fits seamlessly both in ambience and subject matter. Talking of experiences of war, it recalls Dylan’s John Brown. With its occasional strong cascades of notes, it could well be the pick of the set. Treecreeper, on the other hand, showcases a jaunty guitar style and Robin Williamson’s God Dog (NOT we hasten to add, any relation to God=Dog by Black Metal titans Behemoth) is akin to a feelgood song and the antidote to the “super depressing” acapella drinking song Jug Of This.
Good Times Older might have been thirteen years or more in the making, yet spending a day at an old Moot Hall to record the bulk of the album could be the epitome of a pretty good day’s work.
Listen to Lacemaker from the album here: