Review by Alan Cackett, as Editor of Maverick Magazine, UK.
4 STARS Enchantingly fusing Anglo-Americana sounds with a superb Yorkshire accent, Jan Bell has a wonderful knack of breathing new life into time worn folk tales and rare used human stories Yorkshire-born Jan Bell’s latest album pays tribute to her family’s coal-mining roots with a series of songs from both sides of the Atlantic including a handful that she wrote herself. She’s lived in New York for the past 20 years, but listening to her sings such ‘English’ songs as “Dirty Old Town or her own “Yorkshire Water” it’s plainly obvious she’s not forgotten her Yorkshire roots.
Her music is steeped in what used to be referred to as ‘traditional’ country music … that is the pre-Second World War variety typified by the original Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and Aunt Molly Jackson. The title song that I have versions by Marty Robbins, Vernon Dalhart and others, was originally a Welsh song from 1907, and Jan brings a heartfelt, personal feel to the song, inspired in part by her grandfather’s forty-odd years as Yorkshire mining. A more contemporary look at mining comes with Darrell Scott’s evocative “you’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” a song steeped in Kentucky but universal with its message.
She steps into Woody Guthrie territory with “Union Sea” a song that he penned to which she’s added music and pays tribute “Aunt Molly Jackson” with a touching song that has been adapted from a letter that Jackson sent to Sing Out! the American folk magazine.Far from solo effort, Jan is supported by many like-minded singers and musicians including veteran Appalachian singer Alice Gerrard, Jolie Holland, Samantha Parton (of the Be Good Tanyas) Casey neil, Will Scott and members of the Maybelles and the Carper Family. But Jan Bell is the one who has pulled this album together and stamped it with the full breadth of her talent. Maverick Magazine.
4 1/2 STARS A beautiful blend of old-timey, folk and alt. country that all ties together perfectly - American Roots UK See full review at American Roots UK
Cool clear harmony, narrative driven - beautiful. Americana UK
4 STARS A Folk record where the songs are allowed to stand on their own two feet...‘Elsecar Grace’, which tells the story of her grandfather, is one of the most memorable and affecting songs here. Rock n Reel, UK
A seamless album of true beauty. To argue over whether this sort of music is country or folk is to miss the point: these haunting acoustic arrangements may be new, but they call to a time before the distinction made sense, when all the world was folkways, and they evoke the best of that history. Cover Lay Down