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Jason Mcniff - Rain Dries Your Eyes

  by Stephen Simkin

published: 8 / 5 / 2017

Jason Mcniff - Rain Dries Your Eyes
Label: Tombola Records
Format: CD X2


Pleasing double CD compilation from English folk and Americana-influenced artist Jason McNiff

Jason McNiff has been described by 'Mojo' magazine as "one of the UK’s best kept secrets", and I have to confess I had not heard any of his music before this new double CD retrospective 'Rain Dries Your Eyes' crossed my radar. McNiff inhabits that shifting territory somewhere between English folk and the acoustic-dominated, singer-songwriter genre that often gets classified as Americana, regardless of the nationality of the musician in question. And while the Americana/alt-country label can be an advantage – Americana UK voted McNiff’s second album 'Nobody’s Son' their album of the year in 2003– it can also lead to a ‘ghettoization’ that might prevent an artist with a distinctive voice from reaching a wider audience. The mellifluous fingerstyle approach evident on many of these gentle tunes is reminiscent of John Renbourn, Nick Drake and early Dylan (though vocally McNiff is sweeter and lighter, occasionally reedy and fragile). The advantage of the retrospective format is that it allows the two CDs to openly display McNiff’s remarkable range. While none of the songs radically depart from the singer-songwriter mode of delivery, many of them feature a varied palette in terms of the instrumentation; the credits reveal a host of contributors and collaborators who provide everything from a driving rhythm section to more folky embellishments on mandolin, fiddle and accordion. Names that might be familiar to Pennyblackmusic readers include Ahab, the Hank Dogs and Grand Drive. The sequencing of the album is striking: rather than adopting the standard chronological pattern, or adopting a deliberately contrary approach (such as the reverse chronology of Bowie’s 'Nothing Has Changed' collection), McNiff appears to have opted for a “feel”, piecing the collection together as one would a collection of originals, with the emphasis on creating a work of art in its own right. In some respects, a 33-track retrospective for an artist with five albums under his belt over a period of seventeen years could be considered ambitious. Certainly the impressive standards set by some of the collection’s highlights mean that other songs feel relatively lightweight. But for every lesser song with a weaker lyric or less memorable melody, there are at least a couple of gems, such as the catchy, charming ‘Off the Rails’ and moving meditation ‘The Picture’, distinguished by gorgeous fiddle and harmony vocals from Basia Bartz. A pleasing collection, then, that will delight established fans with its previously unreleased recordings and should intrigue listeners new to Jason’s work.

Track Listing:-
1 Off the Rails
2 Woody's Annie Hall
3 Southbound Train
4 I Remember You
5 Another Man
6 Blow Up the Bridge
7 Hang On to Your Woman
8 Kissing in the Wind
9 Summertime in Soho
10 Marry Him
11 Nobody's Son
12 Adieu to Lausanne
13 Students of Love
14 New York
15 Hat
16 Journey Home
17 In Our Time
18 Hills of Rome
19 Green
20 A Different Word
21 All Around America
22 Tombola
23 Delia
24 Sun Comes Up
25 Coming Back to Life
26 Game Over
27 Heart of a Poet
28 Bus of Tears
29 Pilgrim Soul
30 The Picture
31 Sicily
32 Weeping Willows Weep
33 Cairo (Stuck in the Past)
34 Blues Run the Game

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Joy and Independence (2018)
Stripped-down sixth album from London-based but Bradford-raised troubadour Jason McNiff which shows him at his very best
Another Man (2006)
Nobodys Son (2003)

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