Bill Jones

Panchpuran (Compass)

Don’t let the name fool you. This Bill Jones fellow is actually — gasp! — a girl. Chirpy-voiced and sprightly, Jones represents a new generation of English folk singers, musicians who reclaim traditional material while subtly incorporating jazz and rock fillips that recall foremothers such as June Tabor and Maddy Prior. Although she doesn’t have the vocal power of Ireland’s Niahm Parsons, or the sweetness of Scottish newcomer Kate Rusby, Jones is no slouch in the folklore department, having picked out some of the oddest story-songs and ballads the British Isles have to offer. Her curious, off-kilter arrangements include a brass band, cello, accordion, and a wandering minor-key piano — reflecting Jones’ eclectic, modern tastes while paradoxically adding to the album’s old-world feel. The title track, “Panchpuran,” is an autobiographical piece that investigates the cross-cultural angst her Anglo-Indian parents felt as they reluctantly returned to England after the fall of the British Raj. Although Jones’ Indian roots don’t overtly surface in her music, they are part of her far-ranging artistic sensibility. Folk fans searching for bright new talent on the British trad scene would do well to keep their eyes on this young Northlands lassie.

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