Jack Hayter – Abbey Wood (Gare du Nord)

A wonderful low key but sustaining collection of quixotic folk songs from the English artist...

...which is a lesson in how to make compelling arrangements out of small details.

And the many memorable moments are in the details.

Like the owls “whit whoo” of ‘Fanny on the hill’.

The plaintiff female vocal humming entry of ‘The Arandora star’ and later its rousing sea shanty build with fiddle and accordion.

The line in ‘I am John’s care home’ – “here in this place we’ll turn sand into light bulbs / Let in the sun that turns shit into gold” – over lovely woozy steel guitar.

The line in ‘At Crossness Pumping Station’ – “what keeps me here / the shit and piss and afterbirth / the blood and spunk and snot and tears / we wait those years at the pumping station” – over beguiling harmonica fragments.

The haunting vocal chorus of ‘The mulberry tree at Abbey Wood’.

The strummed fiddle of ‘Fanny on the hill’.

Hayter’s voice is a joy throughout. A colloquial and entirely persuasive presence. An eye that observes the margins. A documentarian of obscure treasures.

Delivered in a world weary tone but which is always vibrant and never in danger of miserable.

The anchor points for these earthy revelations (it’s not too strong a word) are ruminative picked guitar or sprightly ukulele and mandolin.

It is a low key treasure of its own.


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