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Hannah James - Jigdoll (RootBeat Records)

Star rating: 
4

If the perceived adolescent voice of Kate Rusby reflects the back lanes of suburban Barnsley, then the hums, yodels and vocal doodles on Hannah James' debut solo album conjures the dark dark woods of an M Night Shyamalan film, or wicker figures perched upon cliff tops with the beetle in the desk that goes round and round. Based on a stage show of the same name, Hannah explores her own musical past in words, music and dance, all three of which are inextricably linked and each of which she is neither stranger not novice. There's an ethereal undercurrent permeating these lullabies, jigs, marches and broadsides, each delicately written, borrowed or deconstructed and reconstructed to suit Hannah's sensibilities. Yet it's all shaped in an adventurous journey celebrating movement through sound, even the dance steps, essentially a visual feast, can be enjoyed as a sonic experience. For the visuals, we leave it in the more than capable hands of Elly Lucas, whose photography shows us the Hannah James we all know and love and with not a single drop of splashed paint in sight. The photograph on the back of the accompanying booklet shows Hannah clog dancing barefoot, which is audible on Barefoot Waltz, a whispered dance if you will, one of the treats that makes this a beautiful little album.    

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky