Jack Rutter – Hills

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Still in his mid twenties, as well as being a member of both Seth Lakeman’s and Jackie Oates’ band, Jack Rutter is already a highly respected singer, guitarist and interpreter of traditional material.  Hills is his debut solo album, a pure and unadorned set of tracks, with one voice and one instrument and the ambience of the room.  Recorded by Joe Rusby at the Rusby Pure studios, the recording is rich and balanced, on tracks like “The Deserter” and “Hatton Wood” the guitar and Jack’s voice literally resonate and sing.  Every vocal inflection and every note of his acoustic are caught perfectly.  Jack learnt “The Deserter” partly from a Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick album and there is something of Carthy’s assured attack on the strings and tune in Rutter’s playing.  The driving rhythm of his right hand is hypnotic and compelling. Jack’s attack on the Concertina is also masterful, his playing on “Morning Trumpet” and “It Hails It Rains” bristles and cracks and spits with a raw power.  Without accompaniment his vocal is sure and powerful, assured and full, his unaccompanied “I’ll Take My Dog And My Airgun Too” is a delight.  Such is the resonance and character of his voice that he can sing “The Dalesman’s Litany” in his mid twenties and inhabit every image, delivering it like he is recollecting a youth long passed and well lived.  His guitar here too is fiery and passionate with the attack of a 60s Carthy or Roy Harper.  Jack Rutter makes mention of recording without ovedub and live in the studio and it to his considerable credit that under such potentially unforgiving light, tracks like “Young Susan on Board of a Man of War” roar with power in their rawness.  Jack’s singing and playing flow into all space like silver or gold filing a jewellers mould, extra instrumentation or adornment would get in the way and detract from the pure beauty revealed.  Play “The Dalesman’s Litany”, “The Banks of Sweet Dundee” or “Morning Trumpet” for the confident guitar part pounding rythmn part resonant notes, for the powerful boom of Jack’s voice or the dark power of his concertina and hear the arrival of a considerable talent on this assured debut.