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Jennifer Crook - A Few Small Things (Get Real Records)

Star rating: 

Putting aside the Celtic harp for a moment, Jennifer Crook embarks on a basic singer songwriter excursion with ten accessible songs of considerable merit. Beautifully packaged, A FEW SMALL THINGS offers a glimpse into Jennifer's world, opening with some home thoughts from abroad in A Stranger in Love, with Alan Burton's duduk solo, bringing to it a distinctly Armenian or North African feel, presumably Moroccan, which wouldn't be out of place on the 'Hideous Kinky' soundtrack. The metaphorical A Bicycle in Need of Repair shows a thoughtful, almost melancholy viewpoint of a lonely heart, which fits in perfectly well with the accompanying rustic artwork. 

With cameo appearances from Clive Gregson, doing an Al Kooper on A Rose In Morning and then again on Jane with Miranda Sykes on double bass, one of the more radio friendly songs on the album, Jennifer Crook enters country territory, with a song that wouldn't be out of place on CMT, whilst Everything Changes has a classic Songs of Love and Hate period Leonard Cohen feel, which Jennifer carries off perfectly well. Robert Harbron's English concertina and Bethany Porter's cello embellishments bring this acoustic album out of the run-of-the-mill folk mould and a little nearer to the Nick Drake model. Perhaps it's the never failing acoustic guitar/cello combination, or maybe just the specific Englishness that evokes Five Leaves Left. It's a little bit dreamy in places but has the necessary credentials to hold the listeners' attention throughout and I would hope this isn't simply an excursion, but a new direction.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky