Jim Moray has had a huge impact on English folk music. His debut appeared out of nowhere as a revelation, then, after a sophomore effort that held promise but not a lot of focus, he returned with LOW CULTURE, which continues the revolution. It's perhaps most evident on his treatment of the incest ballad "Lucy Wan," where the rap between verses (courtesy of Bubbz) adds a whole new dimension to the song, making it more personal--as well as taking trad. folk into grime. "All You Pretty Girls" transmutes the XTC song into a sea shanty in a most effective manner, while "Across the Western Ocean" takes on an '80s feel, right down to the a-ha break in falsetto. There's also a lovely treatment of Bella Hardy's "Three Black Feathers," a song that might be new, but which sits perfectly within the tradition. Throughout, Moray's voice exudes the kind of warmth and personality that draws the listener in. It's folk music for the 21st century, a reinvention of what's gone before, building upon it and filled with plenty of surprises--"Leaving Australia," for example, uses both kora and thumb piano, either of which are typical English folk instruments. It's the kind of album to outrage purists, but please others--and a little division is never a bad thing.
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