Jed Marum,
Miles from Home
(Boston Road, 2005)

One of the joys of a new Jed Marum album is the surprise twists and turns that his stories take. His latest offering, Miles from Home, gives us 15 top-class tracks, most of them coming from his own pen.

He opens as usual with a beautiful story-song, "Mary McGuill," a lovely tale of how Irish people impacted on the growing America. It shows that it was not all gangs and ghettos.

We are so used to tales of emigration from the Famine that we forget that there were other causes for leaving. "Look Ahead Tommy" is a song about his own family. They left Ireland at the time of the Black & Tans, and the song tells of the fears for those at home at that dreadful time.

He returns to a rich seam of poetry from the American Civil War on "Chickahominy River" -- what a great title. "The Locket" is the sad but true story of his mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. His version of "The Rose of Tralee" is a welcome revitalization of a beautiful song that suffers badly from overexposure.

Marum also chooses to marry his new lyrics about old tales to traditional tunes. This is very evident on his tale of a runaway slave working on the whaling ships of New Bedford, "The Ballad of Thomas Higgins."

Like all good singer-songwriters, he is not afraid to take on the works of writers that he admires. On this album he gives a great version of Pete St. John's "Rare Ould Times." He also gives us Michael Troy's beautiful "Last Day in May."

This is another gem of storytelling, beautiful music and a real feeling for history.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 23 April 2005