Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies

Doolally

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    7
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Jez Lowe is one of the most complete songwriters in England, and you won't find many cittern players around. His songs, some of which can be little gems, are infused with the tradition of his native North East, and filled out by his band, including fiddle and Northumbrian pipes for a very rooted sound. He mixes the serious with the wry, as he has so often before, meaning a piece like "Bloodstained," a very unsparing look at the world after 9/11, can sit cheek by jowl with "Hoi Polloi," a sly look at the British class system. Not everything works perfectly -- "Vikings," a wonder at what the invaders would make of today's England, is a little twee and cozy. But when he nails things right, as on "Regina Inside" (and on much of this album), he hits it perfectly. It's also worth mentioning the band, especially piper Andy May, who's developed into an outstanding player. Lowe certainly isn't doolally (a derivation of an Indian word meaning crazy), he's very savvy and smart. And once again he's made a good, solid album.

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