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Respectable Rebellion    Review by Neil King, FATEA

Union Jill are a female duo of singer-songwriters, Sharon Winfield  and Helen Turner, who perform story songs with an Americana influenced  sound, so naturally the comparisons with the Indigo Girls have come  trotting out, well not only is it lazy journalism, it sells both acts  short.

Yes, there are similarities between the two, but no more so than  other Americana sounding acts not restricted to the XX chromosome, there are a number of other influences that you can hear through the album  from both sides of the Atlantic, Richard Thompson and Steve Earle to  name but two, but like all those that are influenced, Union Jill have  definitely brought those influences into a sound that is very much their own.

Despite the title, “Respectable Rebellion” is much more than a  protest. “Trailblazer” for example celebrates the role of women in the  ATA who flew the Spitfires, Hurricanes etc to the frontlines. That  citing of positive example in small p politics really helps to make this a powerful album. That is reinforced by the following track, “Witch  Hunt” that looks at the role of the likes of Mathew Hopkins in  suppressing thoughts and murdering women, just because he had the power  to do so, but this time hits it head on with a ‘fight back’ attitude.

Union Jill have recruited some top musicians for the album, Clive  Gregson, who also shares duties behind the desk with John Wood, Andy  Seward, Mark Boyce and Ric Sanders. Ric plays some absolutely blistering fiddle on “Morecombe Bay”, one of, if not the strongest track on the  album reminding us, lest we forget, of the tragedy of the eighteen  Chinese cockle pickers who lost their lives on the treacherous sands to  the neglect and greed of gangmasters.

Sharon & Helen really know how to put a story songs together,  drawing on references both old and new, “Mad Alice” for example, is  about an Alice, Smith who was hung in York in 1825 for the crime of  being insane, whilst “Queen Of Holloway” celebrates the radicalism of  the suffragettes.

Make no mistake, “Respectable Rebellion” is an incredibly well  written album, that has the power to cause reverberations and be sung in folk clubs for years to come. Union Jill are now a real tour de force  in folk.


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