Here’s an album that whets the appetite – great title, witty band name, remarkable backing band (Ric Sanders, Clive Gregson, Kate St. John, Andy Seward), exciting production credit (Clive Gregson and John Wood.) Helen and Sharon, who are Union Jill, are from York.
I am delighted to report that in every respect, this astounding record fails to disappoint. It is one of the best produced folk albums I have heard in years, drawing together a full and busy sound that never sounds cluttered and has appropriate variety to render each of the thirteen tracks a stand-out in its own right. It’s a remarkable achievement.
The quality of the songs – all originals – is also exceptional. One is reminded of the better recordings by Mary Chapin Carpenter, a benchmark which Union Jill regularly surpass. Start with Queen of Holloway (the CD’s opening song and title track), Raven Mother or Morecambe Bay (which knocks other songs inspired by the same subject far into touch – the closing minute is heart-rending.)
Vocally Union Jill are utterly on target…two great singers (yes you might need to forgive the transatlantic inflections, but what the hell) whose voices work perfectly in harmony and counterpoint.
It’s a faultless record: without exception every track rewards repeated listening both sonically and in the wit and depth of its songwriting.
These are Yorkshire lasses….and we should all be very very proud of them. This year’s Folk Award for Best Duo should be a cinch; my vote is already earmarked.