Bill Jones

Two Year Winter

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Bill Jones has quickly come to occupy a place in British folk music similar to Kate Rusby. She's very much at home with traditional songs (and music, since she's a very capable multi-instrumentalist), giving them an intimate, contemporary feel without ever losing their history, and she's also an excellent songwriter whose pieces fit in perfectly well with the continuum of folk. Two Year Winter (which comes with the four-track Bits and Pieces EP as a second lovely disc) shows how she's continuing her rapid growth. She's also learned to pick work from other writers, like "From My Window," which opens the record, or Pete Morton's wonderful "The Two Brothers," letting them sit very comfortably next to ballads like "The Holland Mistress," whose jaunty tune belies its dark subject matter. Slightly more problematic are her two collaborations with Annie Hills, whose lyrics run to the ostentatiously poetic at time, coming across as forced in comparison to the easiness and flow of the other material. However, that aside, Jones doesn't put a foot wrong. "Hey Away" is a wonderful and truthful piece from Geordieland, "The Lover's Ghost" comes from the eerie tradition of night-visiting songs, and "Bide," a variant on "The Two Magicians," is gloriously understated. The instrumental sets glisten, especially "Diddling Set," where she assays some mouth music, acquitting herself very well. Artists like Jones and Rusby are inclusive rather than exclusive, drawing people gently into folk music. They're to be applauded for it. With this, Jones does a superb job. The only question now: How much better can she become?

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