Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith – Night Hours

Album Review | Fellside | Review by Mary Andrews | Stars: 5/5

When you start playing Night Hours you’re greeted with a 22 second recording of the nocturnal sounds of Bristol – punctuated by the low bass-heavy heartbeat which continues into the title track.  It’s the first glimpse of the boldness that flows through this album.  With Jimmy Aldridge on vocals, banjo and fiddle and Sid Goldsmith on vocals, guitar, double bass and concertina (with additional support from James Gavin, Tommie Black-Roff and Dominic Henderson) there’s a refreshing variety of sounds throughout the 11 songs yet they hang together with ease.  There may be nothing particularly ground breaking about their delivery of “Willie O’the Winsbury” – but it’s still right up there with the best of the recorded versions I’ve heard.  Importantly it’s the contrast of the traditional with the modern that lends Night Hours much of its strength.  Amongst the traditional songs on the album Shallow Brown is sung with great power and emotion and “Mary and the Soldier” showcases Sid’s traditional vocal styling at its strongest.  “Along the Castlereagh” is another revelation, beautifully performed and delivered.  This album showcases the diversity of the folk tradition in a way that opens folk music up to far wider audiences.  Don’t think you like folk music?  Listen to this!  There’s something for everyone.  The true and undeniable strength of this album lies in the insightful original songs.  “Night Hours” tells the story of the night workers that keep cities running – “I’m here when your thoughts are not” – while “Moved On” explores the plight of the residents of Newham that were essentially priced out of their own homes – “I’m not worth the land that I live on, but I’ve lived here for all of my life” – both stories and songs are poignant and wonderful.  The production and arrangement of the title track in particular is something that the duo should be extremely proud of.  When they perform it live it is still a powerful piece of well delivered song writing, but the subtle embellishments and the care that has gone into crafting the production of the album version elevate the song to a whole new level.  There’s a common theme that seems to run through the lyrics and stories of men finding their place in a land owned by landlords.  Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith are finding their place in the world, and I hope that the world encourages and inspires them both to keep on writing – because if it does then we might get a whole album of original songs from Jimmy & Sid, and that is something I am very much looking forward to!  Go and buy this album.