Jim Moray – The Outlander

Album Review | Managed Decline | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 5/5

The first thing to notice on The Outsider, is just how good it sounds. The guitar on “The Isle of St Helena” just couldn’t sound better, each ‘turnaround’ almost melts into your ears.  The collection of traditional songs are delivered in a most direct, uncluttered fashion, with Moray on top vocal form. The arrangements are given a few ‘Stick in the Wheel’ type hand claps rather than bothering with a drum kit or array of Yamashta-like percussion, which keeps things tight and accessible.  The songs remain pretty simple throughout, which they each appear to benefit from.

Recorded at three or four locations around the UK, the ten songs benefit further from some choice contributions from Sam Sweeney, Nick Hart and Jack Rutter, among others, along with a recently acquired 1949 Epiphone Triumph, apparently obtained from a Liverpool cabby.  Joined by Josienne Clarke on “Lord Gregory”, the duet stands out as an album highlight, which is reminiscent of the Child Ballads project produced by Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer a few years ago. Once again, a flawless pairing. Now resident in Merseyside, a place that presumably has more to offer than taxi drivers’ discarded vintage instruments, the album concludes with a warm and faithful reading of “The Leaving of Liverpool”, something that would presumably grieve this singer very much.

Choice Track: “The Isle of St Helena” (NSV 490)