Review - Trad Arr Jones

Artist: John Wesley Harding

During his decade-long career, British folkie John Wesley Harding has charted a course from Elvis Costello-style wit to Richard Thompson-laden hubris. For "Trad Arr Jones," he leaps back a few centuries, culling traditional, seafaring folk songs that had originally been arranged and recorded by Nic Jones in the '70s. Harding makes them new again but changes virtually nothing.

"Little Musgrave" recounts the tale of a betrothed caught in the arms of a handsome stranger, and details the slaying of each -- matter-of-factly, really, as sloppy sentiment wasn't the manner of the day. "Isle of France" tells of a fugitive and the military man who saves him. Harding succeeds here by maintaining a reverence for history and letting chivalry and simplicity sing their own sad songs.

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