Jim Moray

Sweet England

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Jim Moray's debut really set the cat among the pigeons with English folkies. The young iconoclast took traditional songs (all except the final cut, "Longing for Lucy," which he'd composed himself) and gave them very modern arrangements, including loops, beats, brass, and string quartets. The ballad "Lord Bateman" took on trip-hop overtones, while the harmonies on "The Week Before Easter" came straight out of the Beach Boys handbook. "Early One Morning" exploded before heading into ambient beats and swelling strings, and discordant jazz trumpets invaded "Gypsies." It was a daring subversion, all topped by Moray's voice, with its very ‘80s pop feel. For all the criticism from hardcore traditional folkies, Sweet England was an album to draw in those not normally exposed to folk. The arrangements looked to other genres, and gave the old pieces fresh, lovely settings. It's an album to stand the test of time, and shows the enduring power of Moray's vision.

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