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Jez Lowe - The Dillen Doll (Tanobie Records)

Released purely as an accompanying soundtrack to Jez Lowe's novel The Dillen Doll, the songs on this CD, released under the same name, appear as a suite, featuring several familiar songs from the North East, each joined in one continuous piece of music. The songs, some of which have been re-written to suit, serve as a reminder of days gone by and I dare say we see the collection both as a nostalgic trip down memory lane, whilst also being a reliable document of the lives and times of the working classes in the industrial North. Those unfamiliar with this particular region may have to reach for a glossary of terms in order to work out what "As me an' me marra was gannin' to wark" means, but those of us with familiar links to Tyneside will no doubt find it all music to our ears. The book is Jez Lowe's first novel, set at the turn of the 19th Century and the people who inhabit the songs find a new place within the context of the story, adding a further dimension to their respective characters, such as the book's heroine Dolly Coxon, herself featured in the song Do Li A, which closes the collection.

Tyneside shines through the story and indeed through the songs, a character in itself and one that is celebrated through the distinct voice of Jez Lowe, a key player in the endeavour of keeping alive the social and cultural traditions of the area. Anyone who has followed Jez's career will know him as a writer of songs, which reflect the social history of this particular neck of the woods, songs that often sound as if they could have been traditional songs themselves. Here, Jez performs the songs that would no doubt have been an influence to him when he first picked up his guitar and bouzouki way back in time, songs like Here's the Tender Coming, Byker Hill, Broom Bezzoms and Bobby Shafto, each song awarded the treatment they justly deserve, helped along by regular bandmates Kate Bramley on violin, Andy May on Northumbrian pipes and David De La Haye on bass among others. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to read..

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky