Jim Causley – I Am the Song

Album Review | WildGoose Records | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Amongst his many projects, Jim Causley has long maintained a dedication to reviving and celebrating the poetry of his native West Country.  His 2016 album The Clay Hymnal set the poems of Cornish poet Jack Clemo to music whilst his 2013 album Cyprus Well paid its respects to Jim’s distant relative, the renowned Cornish bard Charles Causley.  This year, The Charles Causley Trust has encouraged Jim to return to the poems of his late relative via I am the Song which sets twenty one of Causley’s celebrated children’s poems to music with the help of eleven musicians including Matt Norman, Keith Kendrick, Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll.  There’s a lovely mix of Charles Causley’s whimsy and ethics on this record from the wonderfully silly “Mrs McPhee”, featuring a deep and nasally cello from Anahata, to the biting satire of “I Saw a Jolly Hunter”, which delightfully dispenses with a hare hunter at the barrel of his own gun.  Jim’s chromatic button accordion provides the perfect vessel for Charles’ lyrics, especially those of such jaunty songs as “The Obby Oss, I Took My Wife to Market” and the wonderfully infectious “Good Morning”, “Mr Croco-Doco-Dile” which, thanks to Pete Bullock’s baritone sax, has all the eccentricity of anything by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.  There are also moments of profound beauty such as the blissful “A Memaid at Zennor” and the melancholic “Lord Lovelace” with its haunting depiction of the ravages of war.  Never has Charles Causley’s poetry seemed so alive and vital and we have Jim to thank for it.