Janice Burns & Jon Doran – No More The Green Hills: Album Review

Debut album from Janice Burns and Jon Doran reveals an intimate and delicately played collection.

Release Date: 28th October 2022

Label: JBJD002

Format: CD

The Anglo-Scottish combo, products of the Newcastle University folk degree, follow their debut EP with a debut album. One where their own range of instrumental talent is enhanced in part by the double bass of Ben Nicholls and the might of Andy Bell on recording, production and mixing.

The duo relies on reworking traditional songs – “we love seeing how songs change as they’re passed on from singer to singer and place to place” they admit – and take the themes of man’s relationship with nature, love and loss as the core themes of No More The Green Hills. The notion of the right to roam and visions of those green hills are a well-used image, offering an evocative and meaningful title if ever there were one.

No More The Green Hills finds Jan and Jon displaying the sort of chemistry and subtlety that folk/Americana duo Ben Savage and Hannah Sanders do so well. The skill of being totally in tune with each other is borne out in the arrangements and interpretations they give to these songs, be they sourced from the various points of the British Isles, the Appalachians or from the tried and trusted “we learned this song from the singing of...” oral tradition.

Adding a diverse musicality, the drone on Four Loom Weaver adds an ominous presence to the ballad of the Lancashire cotton famine (an area explored by Faustus on their Cotton Lords project), while the familiar standard, As I Roved Out, gets a delicately tinkling musical box accompaniment. The Corncrake is carried on the ringing of tuned strings and almost deliberately segues into a lively but controlled Up And Awa’ from Janice. The jig tune of the latter allowing for a rare moment where the general air of solemnity and melancholy is given some respite. And taking a break from the tradition, Graham Fox’s ‘hunters become the hunted’ revenge tale, The Black Fox, sees the philosophy of the living song applied to something more contemporary, confidently led by Jon.

The combination of vocals, or with either taking a lead, adds to the variety although the constant is the sensitivity of the arrangements and respect for the collection; one they’ve summarised as “a recording tinged with sadness and a sense of loss.”

Jan and Jon have done a fine job of sending these songs of roving, temperance, love and loss, famine and hunting on further journeys with a new breath of life. It may even class as the latest wave of the folk revival courtesy of some emerging young talent. Like the NWOBHM in the eighties – the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal – there’s surely some acronym that could suffice. The duo are already out on tour – check their webpages for updates.

Here’s False True Love from the album:

Jan and Jon online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube / Bandcamp

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