Vic Smith of fRoots
reviews I am the Song by Jim CausleyThis is the third album of settings of poems to tunes written and sung by Jim in fairly rapid succession. First there was Cyprus Well devoted to the adult poems of distant relative Charles, then there was The Clay Hymnal to celebrate last year’s centenary of the Cornish poet Jack Clemo, and now this one. In many ways this is the most successful of the three.
Many admirers of Causley’s poetry, including this one, say that they can find little difference between the power of his work for children or for adults. As a junior school teacher he had a clear idea of the sort of well constructed mix of sense and nonsense that would appeal. As a great folk song enthusiast, he had a full understanding of the metre and structure of traditional song and this come across clearly in his children’s verse. These factors probably helped Jim in his settings, but he has constructed some fine fitting tunes here, some of them only a few removes from extant melodies. His performances are full of enthusiasm and joy but we can hear that we are listening to a very accomplished singer.
He has an impressive range of accompanying musicians here, mostly drawn from the WildGoose stable, Anahata & Humphries and Kendrick & Needham amongst them. They are allowed short bursts of better-known dance tunes to augment the arrangements.
It would seem likely that many of the 21 mostly shortish songs here will enter a wide range of repertoires. Items like Lord Lovelace, The Obby Oss and Here We Go Round The Roundhouse would seem to be ideal for folk club and singaround and it would be surprising if the title track does not become popular with community choirs.
Of course, many will also be heard in junior classrooms but don’t regard this album a niche market children’s record; yes, it carries that youthful vitality but its appeal should be universal.