Bill Jones,
Turn to Me
(Compass, 2002)

Bill Jones is young, talented and armed with a recording contract and the potential for wide distribution. She's also a girl (Bill, I've learned, is short for Belinda), but that's not really the point -- this young Staffordshire soprano has a foot up on a productive career.

Turn to Me is a pleasant introduction to this young British folksinger. Jones isn't breaking new ground here, but she's honing her skills on an album made up mostly of traditional pieces given fresh service with her clear, sweet vocals and solid arrangements.

Traditional songs include "Mist Covered Mountains," "The Handsome Cabin Boy," "The Fisherboy," "Taimse im Chodladh," "Long John Moore," "Young Waters" and "The Wee Croppy Tailor." She's not afraid to put herself out there, either, as she shows on a lovely a cappella rendition of "A Brisk Young Sailor."

Her arranging skills are displayed best in her combination of Andy Irvine's "Blood & Gold" and Buffy Ste. Marie's "The Universal Soldier," blended with hints of "Swallowtail Jig" and a strong piano line underscoring Jones's sincere vocals. "A Jug of This" is subtle in its driving energy, but it's another prime example of her fledgling skill. Jones makes only a few attempts at composition, but her original work is strong enough to suggest there's more to come.

Besides singing on nearly every track, Jones plays piano, accordion, flute and whistles. She's joined by Simon Haworth (guitar and cittern) and Saskia Tomkins (fiddle and cello). She sings ballads with a crisp intonation that makes it easy to follow the tales; she sings of love and other feelings with the sound of more experience -- and, at times, a hint of eroticism -- than her years would suggest.

Bill Jones is poised to take her next musical step. With luck, she'll resist the urge to overproduce her next album, avoiding the easy flash of a plugged-in band, while continuing to explore traditional ideas and develop her obvious talents for arranging and composing songs.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 1 February 2003

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