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Jim Moray - Skulk (NIAG)
With this his fifth album to date, Jim Moray continues to impress with his skilful command over transforming old songs into something contemporary with highly interesting results. Strangely, there's always a sense of surprise at just how good Moray's albums are, yet we should be used to it by now. SKULK not only tackles traditional material such as The Captain's Apprentice and Horkstow Grange, you know the song from which Ashley Hutchings' second successful folk rock band acquired their name back in the late 1960s, but also with contemporary rock songs such as Lindsay Buckingham's Big Love, which is complemented here by a sassy banjo accompaniment. Anyone acquainted with Anais Mitchell's ambitious folk opera Hadestown will no doubt be familiar with Justin Vernon's version of If It's True, which on SKULK features one of Moray's finest vocal performances, not only here but anywhere in the singer's entire canon. Nic Jones has once again been respectfully plundered not only from his Penguin Eggs period with a fine and faithful interpretation of Courting is a Pleasure but also from the earlier NOAH'S ARC TRAP with Moray's take on The Golden Glove, featuring background vocals and fiddle courtesy of younger sibling Jackie Oates. With a strong supporting cast including Andy Cutting on accordion, BJ Cole on pedal steel and Will Pound on harmonica, the self-produced SKULK is possibly Moray's finest album to date.