John Wesley Harding
Trad Arr Jones
First Appeared at The Music Box, September 1999, Volume 6, #9
Written by John Metzger
Since his 1992 effort Why We Fight, John Wesley Harding has matured as a songwriter, continuously exploring new musical territory and evolving his sound. His experimentation culminated with Awake — a genuine masterpiece by any standard — as he poured his heart and soul into a deeply personal cycle of songs. His latest effort Trad Arr Jones is a solid affair that gives Harding a chance to regroup and think about where he should head next. His music has long been anchored in folk tradition, and so in many ways, this is a return to Harding’s roots, allowing him to cleanse his palette and begin anew.
The title of Trad Arr Jones is taken from the pseudonym of folk legend Nic Jones, who stopped recording and performing after a car accident in 1982. Harding’s collection is truly a labor of love, and as such, it strikes a gentle balance between the spirit of Jones’ original recordings and Harding’s own performing style. He rearranged the pieces as duets with his longtime collaborator Robert Lloyd, and anyone who has seen these two appear together on stage is quite aware of the power inherent in their performance. This magic is captured beautifully on Trad Arr Jones, as Lloyd floats mandolin and accordion accompaniments above Harding’s tender foundation of vocals and guitar. For the most part, this is quite a mellow, but ultimately haunting, outing that might not appeal to those more in tune with some of Harding’s more radio-friendly output. Yet, if given a chance, it’s hard not to get sucked into the gorgeous arrangements and intriguing stories of love and death. ˝
Trad Arr Jones is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box