A Review of the CD
"The Parish Notices"
by Jez Lowe


"The Parish Notices"
by Jez Lowe

Copyright Green Linnet Records 1998
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This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
http://www.kevindmccarthy.com/music/index.html
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A montage of life in the north of England--the good, the bad, the funny, the sad--comprises "The Parish Notices," the latest release from Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennies. A keen social observer with the remarkable ability to transform everyday vignettes into incisive song, Lowe also possesses the uncanny talent of synergistically uniting his lyrics with just the right music.

His timely and opportune employment of the cittern, mandolin, dulcimer, banjo, fiddle, hurdy-gurdy, melodeon and accordian on various cuts enthusiastically resonate with his lyrics, enhancing his songs' effectiveness.

He is an effectual user of colloquialisms. Witness the song titles "Propping," "Sod All," "Hand Away, Gan On," that help transport the listener to the land(s) in which he sets his songs. Lowe presents the trials and tribulations of besotted souls, successful emigrants who return to a reception of scorn and envy, lost and bewildered unsuccessful emigrants, single parenthood, unemployment, and the effect of the appearance of AIDS in a small English village, among other topics.

"Sod All" is a melancholy tune about falling under the spell of a silver-tongued devil and then being forsaken after a resulting pregnancy. The mother plaintively strikes out at the world, telling her son:

She continues on:

Judy Dinning effectively trades vocals with Lowe on this cut.

Using the cittern, whistle and hurdy-gurdy effectively on "Spitting Cousins," Lowe tells the tale of a visiting Australian cousin returning to the north of England to a bitter reception. As the resentful relative, he sings:

Continuing on, he says:

In "Had Away, Gan On," a song borne out of his homesickness during a tour of Australia, Lowe humorously sings:

Johnny Handle is a folksinger from the northeast of England.

His chorus goes:

"Hand away, gan on" is a County Durham expression meaning "Get away, go on."

The true story depicted in "The Parish Notices," is the tale of the arrival of a lesbian couple in a quaint English village. Tongues start clucking as:

However, when one of the women subsequently contracts AIDS and dies:

The power and cohesiveness of Lowe's writing is nowhere more apparent than in this song. The vivid images and the story he presents in just 27 lines of verse is remarkable.

Other strong compositions on this CD include the bouncy "Propping," the galloping "The Limping Drinker's Polka," "Go Away Joe," and the cheerful "Idle Time."

Lowe is an underrated songwriter and performer. Neither flashy nor bombastic, his marriage of music and words often offers delicate shadings, nuances on life as he sees it. Because of this, this is not a bleak or caustic release, despite the subject matter. He gets his point across without assaulting the listener.

He is ably assisted here by Billy Surgeoner on fiddle, keyboards, whistle, saxophone, percussion and vocals; Jez Luton on double bass, electric stand-up bass, keyboards, guitar and vocals; and Judy Dinning on vocals, guitar, keyboards and percussion; and special guests Jake Walton on hurdy-gurdy; and Rob Kay on melodeon and accordian.

Track List:

All songs written by Jez Lowe.


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