I’m a big fan of the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies, and when St Giles Bowl started spinning in my CD player (Ed. We don’t get sent many hard copies these days) I was immediately transported to the rowdy public houses where Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law enjoy some debauched evenings as Holmes and Watson.
Channelling gypsy folk, ‘One of a Thousand Men’ is a foot-stomping, violin-led riot of a tune – the ideal opener.
Back to the CD for a second, this comes in a plush cardboard sleeve, complete with lyric and photo booklet – making it a rather nice collectable in the age where most of my music is consumed via SoundCloud links.
This informs me that track two is ‘St Giles Bowl’ – a melodeon-infused Celtic waltz that’s pure The Pogues and would make the ideal lock-in song. (Ed. Where’s my Guinness?) But it’s not just the music that conjures up images of swaying arm in arm with fellow inebriated pub-goers – “Oh music and dancing were my first love/The hops and barley my last” sings Tim Jones.
Being a true British folk record, there are plenty of references to real places and real faces too. There’s a wonderful authenticity about the whole thing – especially Jones’ characterful and pleasingly imperfect delivery.
All the instruments you want to hear are present too – mandolin, glockenspiel, tin whistle – and they are expertly wielded to create engaging changes of pace and mood, from the upbeat ‘Westminster’ and ‘Her Long Red Hair’ to the downbeat, cautionary tale ‘Robinson’.
A wonderful CD, but I can’t help feeling that for the true effect Tim Jones and the Dark Lanterns need to be heard live – their’s really is proper street music from another time.
St Giles Bowl is out now.
11 is louder than 10 verdict
11 – Sonic boom
10 – Planet rock
9 – Headbanging
8 – Turn it up
7 – Rocking
6 – Foot tapping
5 – Worth a listen
4 – Background music
3 – Turn it down
2 – Earache
1 – Turn it off
0 – Ear bleeding