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David Kidman of Netrythms

reviews Lost Love Found by Jim Causley

Jim's come a long way since his original Best Newcomer nomination in the 2006 Radio 2 Folk Awards, with a further award nomination this year for the CD (Blood And Honey) by the trio he sings with, The Devil's Interval. Jim's also appeared with Waterson: Carthy, and as part of a duo with Waulk Elektrik's James Dumbelton (who plays guitar and mandolin on this, Jim's second solo CD), and now he's gone on to form the ensemble Mawkin: Causley with vibrant young foursome Mawkin (whose fiddle player James Delarre appears on three of the tracks here).

Lost Love Found enjoys a self-evident thematic continuity through varying interpretations of songs and ballads of heartbreak and lament, and indeed of the wider concept of love itself. This brief enables Jim to tackle a similarly wide stylistic range of material across and outside that emanating from the expected traditional folk sources.

Jim's blessed with a rich warm baritone voice which (and this is less often encountered in a singer than you might think) is equally impressive on deeply sensitive and lighter or more comic material. He combines a companionable presence with a technique that's both accommodating and accessible, while his accordion playing is dextrous and sympathetically moulded too, with evident compassion but also commendable restraint alongside the desire to fill out the sound and underpin his singing voice.

Jim chooses to open the CD with a refreshingly straightforward variant of Polly Vaughn which typifies his measured and respectful approach to a text while leaving room for expressive contouring as appropriate. There's more than a hint of Tony Rose about the quality of relaxed vocal assurance that Jim brings to any song he tackles, notwithstanding any textual or interpretational innovations he introduces. Jim's unaccompanied treatment of Oxford City and his chilling duet with Sandra Kerr (actually James Dumbelton singing very high  note from Doug Bailey) on Lady All Skin And Bone are both outstanding, as in a different way is his take on Wild Rover, which borrows from the wistful approach of the "southern variant" originally collected by Cyril Tawney and further adopted by Brian Peters & Gordon Tyrrall, and Sandra Kerr's Appalachian dulcimer is a brilliant choice for accompanying instrument. A couple of the selections in the latter half of the disc will surprise the traditionalists: Autumn Days is that old primary-school chestnut (well that's what Jim calls it), given a strummy, chummy Formby-uke-style setting that's either utterly charming or infuriatingly twee depending on your view of the song I suppose (I actually rather like it). Traitor's Love, on the other hand, is a contemporary composition by George Papavgeris, whose (singing) voice is the first you hear on the track (the song takes the form of a dialogue); this song needs a few plays, for its meaning is slower to reveal itself than its swift pace and lively, busy setting might at first appear to allow. But elsewhere I'm still unsure about Jim's decision to leave intact the wilful narratorial gender ambiguities of Loving Hannah, even though his choice and style of accompaniment (fiddle, mandolin and accordion) are first-rate. At the end of the tenth song, Rolling Of The Stones, however, the album just stops dead in its tracks (so to speak), and I really was left wondering whether I'd got a faulty pressing until I checked the list of songs on the back cover which confirmed it was no fault, that really is the end of the disc. It's a disconcertingly short album, and thus not only poor value for money at a mere 36 minutes but - more importantly - it definitely leaves me with a feeling of having been shortchanged artistically (good though this is, Jim's capable of delivering more, I believe) and, crucially, a niggling residual sense of insubstantiality about the album as a whole (which is very probably unfair and) which doesn't wholly surface until after the disc has exited the player before its anticipated time. And I was also mildly surprised that the otherwise attractive booklet, most unusually for WildGoose, appears to have been less than usually carefully proofread. But basically, what the disc contains is fine - it's just that there's not enough of it.