FolkWords Reviews

‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ – James J Turner “...a potent piece of folk rock”

(March 17, 2016)

I first encountered the music of James J Turner back in 2012 when I heard ‘How Could We Be Wrong?’ and in my opinion it was:So right on every level ... music that makes its mark.” And now here comes ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ due for release 22nd April 2016 ... so although the wait has been a long one, the result is a potent piece of folk rock, with james j turner album covercertain emphasis on the rock. 

If justice was done, there really shouldn’t be anyone that doesn’t already know this man’s work, but just in case I’ll tell you. Turner writes folk rock from the heavy side ... vocals delivered with a punch that will not be ignored, lyrics with the bite of a junkyard dog and hooks more infectious than a virulent virus. This music will get inside your brain and stay there, wherever you immerse yourself in its grasp ... with a JD or two, rocking out with steering-wheel percussion or simply soaking in its musical muscle. ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ comes from somewhere vital and visceral with an instinctual, almost primal force you’ll want to share.

The album’s title track ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ instantly pulls you away from wherever you are, this is gut-level, earthy music you cannot ignore. From there, the entreaty to ‘Come With Me’ pours out its passion, ‘Watching You’ asks its hard questions over scintillating violin breaks, while with its more plaintive vocals ‘Remember Me’ takes a softer more contemplative tone. The steam-hammer blues-rock of ‘Karma Will Track You Down’ launches a warning to the human condition, before ‘Heart Of Gold’ delivers a similar truth through its strong folk essence: “I may be a poor man but I have a heart of gold” and for my money, the soulful ballads ‘Take Your Soul’ and ‘A Game’ simply hit it. There’s not a single point in ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ where you could accuse Turner of adding a filler track, perhaps that’s the result of a long hiatus between two albums ... consistently outstanding work.

Giving life to the soul of ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ are James J Turner (vocals, guitar, whistles, mandolin, shruti box) Amy Chalmers (violin, backing vocals) Vicky Mutch (cello) Etienne Girard (bass guitar, fretless bass) Jay Hughes (drums, cajon, percussion) and Henry Priestman (accordion)

Find James J Turner and ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ here: www.jamesjturner.com

Review: Tim Carroll

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