Fruits of the Earth

by Jim Causley

Jim Causley is one of the exciting young singers who are making a name for themselves in the traditional song arena. This album is mainly of traditional material and includes some unusual pieces as well as some self penned material.



Jim Causley Vocals, Accordion and Diddycordion

James Dumbelton Harmony Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin, Crowdy-Crawn and Shaky Cans

John Dipper Fiddle

John Barleycorn   Trad arr Causley

I first discovered this gorgeous version of the song on a dreadful cd of songs collected in Somerset by Cecil Sharp and performed by a classical male quartet featuring a counter tenor  lovely! Great songs though and this one was sung to Sharp in August 1906 by a Mr John Stafford of Bishops Sutton in the Mendip Hills. It has a big place in my heart and the last verse never fails to give me goosies, to quote Norma Waterson!



Arscott of Tetcott (the hunting of)   Trad arr Causley/Dumbelton

According to Sabine Baring-Gould, in its heyday this was one of the most popular Devonshire songs, second only to Widecombe Fair. Its a fantastic story and the Arscott family still live in the manor at Tetcott to this day. I am always fascinated how these songs continue to be poignant in modern times.



Tan Yard Side (down by the)   Trad arr Causley

The beauty of this song from Phoebe Smith never fails to turn me into a blubbering dollop of jelly although Im sure her singing could melt the hardest of hearts. I hope the pretty girl in the song appreciated how much she was adored.

(unless he was a minger  that changes everything)       (that said; if he was rich)



The Pricklie Bush   Trad arr Causley/Dumbelton

I learnt this classic song as a kid from one of Mums Judy Collins LPs. I wasnt planning on recording it for this cd but one day I happened to sing it to James and he remarked what a lovely minor tune it had! To which I said what?! Its the most major tune in the world!! He proved me wrong with his fantastic accompaniment and Im very glad he did. This ones for my own dear family who are a lot more compassionate than the family in the song!



Old Riverside (down by the)   Trad arr Causley

Sophie Legg from across the border was the source of this deceptively wicked song with its enticingly sweet tune. Some do find this one shocking but can I just say that I am not a misogynistic pig and remind yall it was learnt from a lady! I had the rare pleasure of hearing Sophie give a talk about her fascinating life at Wadebridge festival last summer (2004) and so Id like to dedicate this one to her and all her clan of gorgeous singers. 



Harvest Song   Trad arr Causley

I learnt this one when I used to sing with the wonderful Wren Trust who continue to do great work for traditional music in Devon. I love this song for its joyous, heart-warming anthemic-ness  makes me proud to be a country boy!



Rewind   Causley

This song first came about in my Exeter College days. I was lying in a field thinking of England and various other random things such as cyder and the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549! This ones for James  A: coz he said he liked it and B: for being a little angel.



The Carnal and the Crane   Words Trad  Music Causley

Im a big fan of the apocryphal ballads with their slightly mixed-up and often sinister versions of bible stories set amid the English countryside! And no one sang them better than Shropshire singer May Bradley. Her singing chills me to the bone in the most delightful way. I didnt learn this one from her though! (although I bet shed of loved it) Its not set in England and the exotic tune came to me when I was stuck on a long train journey sat next to a somewhat pissed Glaswegian. Thats how I deal with such situations  make up weird tunes for apocryphal carols.



The Lusty Young Smith   Trad/Dipper arr Causley/Dipper

Love a bit of smut I do; of all the filthy songs in my repertoire, this one gets requested the most. I actually find it quite exciting to sing if not a little disappointing in the penultimate verse, poor bloke! The tune in the middle is by John and named On the Er after a humorous morning in the recording studio. Lets just say, you had to be there.



Sing Ivy   Trad arr Causley/Dumbelton

I found this song on an album of songs for children called Supermum by the irrepressible Sandra Kerr. At first it may appear as a nonsensical childrens song but its actually from the same family as Scarborough Fair. Who knows what the enchanting riddles meant to whoever first created it? As with John Barleycorn and the wassail song; one cannot ignore the strong pre-Christian undertones.



The Whimple Wassail   Trad/Causley arr Causley

Jim Causley is extremely proud to present this song to the world! This is the wassail song from my village in East Devon. A little history now: for many years Whimple was the home of Whiteways cyder and the cyder factory was the main source of employment in the area. Whiteways cyder was world famous and the village boasted the largest cyder apple orchards in the country. It sadly all came to an end when Whiteways was bought-up by Showrings of Shepton Mallet, makers of Babycham. In the early nineties the factory was demolished and an uninspiring array of lego houses were built in its place. The industry is gone yet still the wassailing continues I am very pleased to say.



The song is preceded by the Whimple Wassail Processional Tune and buffered-up at the end by a jig what I wrote called Knock on Wood which was inspired by the song Green Broom but also wouldnt offend Tom Cobleigh and his pals! Verse four I poached from an unnamed Cornish wassail song from the Baring-Gould manuscripts simply because it makes me chuckle. Many thanks to Richard Webber of the Whimple History Society for his kind help. This song is dedicated to all the good people of Whimple!



Yonders Hill (Blind Beetles)   Trad arr Causley/Dipper

This beautifully quirky tale of rejection came from a precious tape of the Dorset gypsy singer Queen Caroline Hughes, kindly lent to me by the afore mentioned Norma Waterson. It knocked me over backwards when I first heard it and I cant believe more people dont sing it. Big love to John for playing as beautifully as the song.



Unwind   Causley

Simply my philosophy for life! 

1
John Barleycorn
Sample not available
2
Arscott of Tetcott (the hunting of)
3
Tan Yard Side (down by the)
4
The Pricklie Bush
Sample not available
5
Old Riverside (down by the)
Sample not available
6
Harvest Song
Sample not available
7
Rewind
Sample not available
8
The Carnal and the Crane
Sample not available
9
The Lusty Young Smith
Sample not available
10
Sing Ivy
Sample not available
11
The Whimple Wassail
Sample not available
12
Yonders Hill (Blind Beetles)
Sample not available
13
Unwind
Sample not available

Around Kent Folk

Jim is one of the new young English folkies. He has a fine rich manly singing voice. Just listen to the depths of The Carnal & the Crane.

Theres non-intrusive accompaniment by Jim on accordion and diddycordion plus John Dipper and James Dumbleton. Of the unaccompanied songs John Barleycorn stands out. There is a very haunting version of Tan Yard Side. Yonders Hill (Blind Beetles) is from the singing of Dorset Gypsy Queen Caroline Hughes - a beautiful quirky tale of rejection.

From his own composition Unwind he sings He found Salvation by Singing Songs of a Forgotten Age.

Whether singing on his own or with the trio Devils Interval (Emily Portman/Lauren McCormick) he deserves, given any justice in this world, to go far.

The Folk Mag. - Bob Taberner

Roy Laskey

Jim Causley was a new name to me. He is another product of the admirable

Folkworks programme in the North East, although he comes from the other end

of the country - Whimple in East Devon. This CD comprises eleven traditional

songs with a mainly rural connection and mostly collected in the South West,

plus two of Jims own songs.

All the songs have been arranged by Jim and given sympathetic

accompaniments. Jim plays accordion and here hes joined by James Dumbleton

on guitar and melodeon and John Dipper on fiddle. His voice impressed me and

my wife compared the tone and clarity with another Wildgoose stablemate Mick

Ryan, high praise indeed.

My pick of the tracks would be The Whimple Wassail into which Jim has

clearly devoted a lot of time and which he dedicates to his fellow

residents, along with Arscott of Tetcott, a hunting song again with local

and current relevance, and Sing Ivy with its haunting accompaniment. I

particularly liked Jims song Rewind, a reflection of thoughts whilst lying

in a field during his college days and parts of it certainly struck a chord

with me.




Dai Woosnam

Dai Woosnam

In my more thoughtful moments, I often wonder about names. I mean, is it

a millstone or a godsend to have a famous namesake in the same field? And I am not talking soccer or politics here.   I am being strictly relevant

and staying within the realms of the performing arts.Norah Jones eschewed the chance to take her dad Ravi's name and stayed with her maternal one; yet Declan McManus decided on morphing into �Elvis Costello� (the very antithesis of the �moniker of a shrinking violet�, methinks!)And if you are from the West Country (of England) and you are born with a surname like Causley, have you got a hard act to follow, or does the name actually open doors for one?

Those readers of this who know to whom I am alluding here, will say, �Well,

Charles was a poet, not a singer of traditional folk songs.  Plus he was

Cornish to boot.� Well, in response to that, I would point out that Charles was very much a performing artist: his LP �Causley Reads Causley� is perhaps the one piece of vinyl that I would save over all others from the fire.   And, as for the fact that the poet was not a Devonian, all I can say is that he came from a part of Cornwall that could hardly be closer to the Devon border.)

And so, when it came to Jim here, I can but add that with ME at least, his

surname automatically made me feel warm towards him.   Quite why, one is

uncertain.  Perhaps because in my subconscious I had figured he was a blood relative of Charles: one who had been given some of those same family

creative genes.   Or indeed, perhaps the opposite: maybe he was really born

�Jim SMITH� and had changed his name to his idol's! (And this would bring

him additional brownie points from me, for this demonstration of impeccable

good taste!)

Whatever� I was drawn to the album by his name.  And three full listenings

later, I am still drawn to the album.  But this time by his TALENT. So

let me tell you about it. We start with the voice.  The opening track is perhaps not the best indicator.  It is his version of �John Barleycorn�, and it shows him drinking deeply at the well of Martin Carthy. Amazingly and

mysteriously, for the following 12 tracks, he manages to shrug off the

Carthyisms and really be himself.   And what a pleasing self it is.

And the voice fills a vacuum for me.   Ever since Don Shepherd disappeared

from my radar, I have been looking for an open and unmannered voice of the

same timbre and warmth. And in Jim Causley I reckon I have found it.

A very pleasing album of largely traditional (but some self-penned) songs.  James Dumbelton and John Dipper lend their fine instrumental hands on many tracks.

There are strong songs like �Tan Yard Side� and that great old favourite

�The Pricklie Bush� counterbalancing the occasional more lightweight and

indeed frivolous number like �Sing Ivy�. And it wouldn't be a WidGoose

album if it didn't have an �unknown� song on it that knocked one for six.  

Excuse me America, for using a cricketing metaphor!)

The seriously good song on this one is track 12, �Yonders Hill�, which Jim

in his notes tells us comes from the singing of a Dorset gypsy singer.  It

is a real revelation, and as full of impact in its way as �When Fishes Fly�

was on the 2003 �Sharp Practice� album by Mary Humphreys & Anahata.

Two other tracks also scored highly for me. Track 7, �Rewind� has Causley

the song writer in Incredible String Band mode: it is an arresting oddity.

The other track that bowled me over was �The Whimple Wassail�.    Why it did is interesting. Oh sure, it was very well sung and it did it for me musically, but there was another element to it. And here I need to declare an interest of sorts. It seems that Jim hails from the Devon village of Whimple, near Exeter. And in his notes to the track, he mentions that Whimple was a company town

(these last two were my words: my wrongful use of a clich� term, for �town� it assuredly ain't!   It is only the tiniest of places!).

He points out that Whiteways Cyder was the company that put the village on

the map, and that their products were sold all over the world.  Alas, when

they were taken over and became part of a big drinks conglomerate, the

writing was on the wall for the Whimple operation, and nowadays there are

little boxes straight out of Malvina Reynolds, where once that proud

independent drinks company stood.

So what is the special �interest� that I felt bound to declare?   Well

simply, it is this: for some years I was their man in the Welsh valleys,

selling their fruit wines, Cydrax, Peardrax and Armadillo British Sherry to pubs and off licences. And I well recall their quirky (to the point of

being idiosyncratic) premises down there in Whimple.

And at this point, let me make my usual reference to WildGoose liner notes.    Their universal quality is a hallmark of the label, and this lot is no

exception.  But, that said, I have actually found my first WildGoose

spelling error.   The company that took Whiteways over was Showerings, not

�Showrings�. )Big deal. I have spotted a missing �e�.   I hope I am proud of myself!

But seriously, I have spotted a lot more. I have spotted a real talent

here. An artist who methinks will be destined for a long recording

career.

Folk London

TF

Fruits of the Earth Jim Causley WGS 326CD Jim Causley has been the great discovery of the past couple of years. Winning prizes at the BBC Folk Olympics he has shot to the attention of everyone interested in traditional English Folk. This CD shows that all that attention was well deserved. It starts with a particularly fine version of John Barleycorn. Arscott of Tetcott is remarkable part hunting song, part ghost story. Apparently the Arscott family still live in the manor at Tetcott. Old Riverside is one of those songs about the girl who believed him when he said he would marry her, and was seduced betrayed and murdered. It follows the well worn folk path, the kicker of this version being that it is that it is voiced by the man who announces his intention of doing it all again. A song on behalf of the serial killer?good stuff. The Whimple Wassail comes from Jims village in East Devon once the home of Whiteways Cider, Splendid to be able to sing such fine songs from your own home. The Carnal and the Crane is a wonderful dark version of biblical happenings in the English countryside a sort of spooky carol. Yonders Hill is a wonderful sad tale of loss and rejection which 1 certainly have not heard before, it is gorgeous and deserves to be in the mainstream. This is a truly remarkable CD from a fine new singer it is I am sure the first of many CDs and great club performances to come. If you dont own this CD already the only remaining question is - Why Not?

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

I must say the cover put me off at first - young man with bare, hairless (huh!) chest half-way 'out' of a pasture holding out an apple - hardly inspirational and a bit pretentious. Frankly, I'd have preferred uninterrupted views of the East Devon countryside where the singer originates. However, it isn't the cover, it's the content I'm to review.

Opening track - very appealing, strong voice hits you first with an unusual version of John Barleycorn; delivery a little over deliberate - but promising.

Next is Arscott of Tetcott (the hunting of) - his parenthesis not mine; I'd have written the complete title as one, but never mind - an interesting hunting song from Devon. It's sensitively accompanied and introduces some subtle harmonies from James Dumbelton. Then comes Phoebe Smith's version of Tan Yard Side (down by the) - note the parenthesis yet again! - which is rather laboured too but is an authentic rendition.

Judy Collins' version of The Pricklie Bush which Jim learned from '..one of Mum's LPs.' follows. Harvest Song has an accordion drone style accompaniment which rather slows down the verses a tad; perhaps a guitar, fiddle or mandolin would have made it more lively. In spite of that it's a good chorus song that will no doubt be picked up by many a singaround singer. Old Riverside (down by the) (more brackets!) is sung in a very similar style to the source singer, Sophie Legg, from whom he got it. He knows his sources does this lad so good for him in that respect.

Rewind is a Causley own composition. A good song with an imaginative accordion backing but still a bit plodding. As a result the phrase 'life is here and life is gay' doesn't sound convincing. After May Bradley's version of The Carnal and the Crane, a strange song I think, although this version makes slightly more sense than the version collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams that I have, I was beginning to lose the will to live! - and then he comes up with The Lusty Young Smith which is, of course, rude and fun! On Sing Ivy, which he learnt  from the wonderful Sandra Kerr (she wrote it), he reminds me of a young Carthy but none the worse for that.

By now I'm finding this album a bit of a strain (no doubt you're feeling the same, reading this!) but I can't put my finger on the reason. Jim sings very well; he has a super voice, with excellent diction and well up front in the mix but it's all a bit monotonous and mostly slow in tempo and he doesn't really perform the songs. I know it's difficult in an audio format, but voice expression, emphasis and intonation should be more evident and, frankly (my dears), it isn't. Also, his programming  isn't very well thought out. For example, he could have placed the Lusty Smith further up the playing order to break things up a little. Similarly, we have to wait until track 11 before we get the jolly up-tempo Whimple Wassail with full accompaniment of accordion and fiddle and chorus followed on by a lively tune. Then it's back to mournful with Yonders Hill which is mercifully short!

The album finishes with Unwind, another of Jims' own compositions, which is a jaunty waltz with a catchy tune and gives us insights into Mr. Causley's complex personality.

This is a complex album which I found difficulty in appraising which is why I've mentioned all the 13 tracks! - something which I don't normally do, of course, but felt I should, dear reader, in order to give you a comprehensive review.                

Living Tradition

Danny Saunders

Fruits of the Earth is an excellent CD of English style traditional singing. Most of the songs are, Trad Arr. Causley, and are either little known or unusual versions of better?known songs. There are also a couple of strong original compositions. This is a good CD for anyone looking for new material.

Jims mature voice is well suited to his choice of material both when singing unaccompanied, or with the appropriate accompaniment provided by himself on accordion and diddycordion, Jim Dumbelton on harmony vocals, guitar, mandolin, crowdy?crawn and snaky cans and John Dipper on fiddle (Please note that these strange instruments are listed in the notes ? I didnt make them up!). Jenny Sartin and Doug Bailey guest with chorus vocals on one of the unknown songs, unknown to me anyway, The Whimple Wassail.

The whole CD has an authentic traditional sound, a little old?fashioned by todays more flashy standards; indeed it reminds me in places of the recordings of some traditional singers, a compliment to Jims interpretation of the songs. His voice, the sympathetic instrumentation, the choice of songs, and the pace at which everything is taken all lend themselves to this feeling of authenticity.

This is not to say that Jim Causley is not original ? he is. I think everything works so well on this CD, but to sound one note of caution, and as with a lot of traditional English singing, `Fruits of the Earth is not generally a jolly singalong affair. It may be a little hard going for some at first, but I assure you that each playing will reward the listener. A very enjoyable CD.


Mardles

Wild Goose Records is rapidly becoming one of the labels for folk music, alongside Fellside, Veteran and Topic. Doug Bailey seems to have that knack and instinct for finding and recording the best English traditional musicians and singers. One of them is Jim Causley. If you don't already know Jim Causley, then try to listen to this album without looking at the album sleeve and just listen to that rich, mature voice. However the pictures of Jim on the sleeve reveal him to be a young man. I also caught up with Jim at Whitby, singing solo, with The Devil's Interval, a trio with Jim, Lauren McCormick and Emily Portman, and with Fay Hield and Jon Boden. Jim hails from Devon and the material on the album is strongly influenced by his upbringing. There is a couple of self-penned songs but it's mostly traditional and all superbly sung. Many of the songs are well known but often as interesting variants and include John Barleycorn, Tan Yard Side, The Pricklie Bush, Lusty Young Smith and Sing Ivy. Jim also introduces the listener to The Whimple Wassail, the wassail song from his hoime village of Whimple in East Devon, the former home of Whiteways Cyder and the largest cider orchards in the country � so the wassailing obviously worked! On the evidence of this album and what I saw at Whitby, you are going to hear a lot more of Jim Causley for many years to come.


 Autumn 2005

Shreds and Patches

Flos Headford

This young man has an astonishingly mature voice and manner of singing. Here is a fine, entertaining album on which Jim is ably supported by his own accordion, by the vocal, guitar, mandolin, crowdy-crawn and percussion talents of John Dumbleton, and by the remarkable fiddling of John Dipper. It is also a beautifully recorded and presented CD of traditional songs with the addition of two written by Jim in traditional style.

I was impressed from the. first bar of the first track (John Barleycorn in a version rarely heard outside Somerset) and particularly so by Tan Yard Side, The Carnel and the Crane and Yonders Hill. The piece de resistance, though, is the lovingly constructed and performed Whimple Wassail, which enlists the able vocal assistance of the producer, Doug Bailey, and his daughter. In truth, there is no weak track in the thirteen.

There is such a variety of mood, method and arrangement that the whole lingers most pleasingly in the memory. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the quality of the new compositions; such finely crafted blends of traditional sounding lyrics and melodies. You will be hearing Rewind and Unwind from many a fine singer in the near future, Ill warrant. And Ive yet to hear a better tune for The Carnal and the Crane than the one Jim has invented!

I cant fault this CD, I really cant. Bravo!

Sing Out

MD

1 guarantee youll look at the cover photo again as soon as the music begins. You wont quite believe that Causley is a 20?something university student, so much will his voice remind you of Martin Carthy, Ian Robb and other great unaccompanied singers in the English tradition. This is a striking collection of ballads and songs.