Jackie Oates: Gracious Wings review – mortality and other moods

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The Guardian

(Needle Pin)
The English folk singer considers life’s landmarks, from childhood to dementia, on her affecting eighth album

The artwork of folk singer and fiddle player Jackie Oates’s eighth album depicts the harpy from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials saga who resides in the land of death, listening to the stories of the deceased; what ancient Greece termed a “psychopomp”. Pullman’s creation chimes with Oates’s current studies at an Oxford hospice to become a music psychotherapist, singing to the terminally ill. Having lost her father a few years back (an event addressed on her last album), Oates is now facing her mother’s dementia. This inspires one strand of Gracious Wings, notably on a touching cover of Tom Waits’s Time, though mortality is never far off in traditional folk song, as attested by versions of maritime ballad The Ship in Distress and the grieving Lament to the Moon.

The album captures a variety of moods, however. Robin Tells of Winter is sparse and forlorn as a January dawn, while Tammy Toddles celebrates childhood innocence and La Llorona, a duet with Megan Henwood, addresses pregnancy. As ever, Oates’s vocals are light but mellifluous and she remains an expressive fiddler, given classy support from bassist John Parker and accordion player John Spiers, among others.

Continue reading… September 3, 2022 at 09:05PM Neil Spencer

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