The Harrison, Kings Cross
Friday 29th May
Doors 7:30pm, Live Music 8:15pm
If you’ve not heard of Bill Jones, it’s because she’s been away for a while. Perhaps you missed her the first time around, when she was coming up with similar bright young British folk hopes at the turn of the century (including Kate Rusby, Kathryn Roberts and Karine Polwart). Or perhaps you caught her at the time, but she’s slipped your mind. That slight introverted tinge behind her clear, powerful voice and the unassuming friendly diffidence of her stage presence has sometimes allowed her to slip away like a warm dream
Sunderland-based but with roots in Staffordshire, in London and in Darjeeling, India, Bill (actually Belinda, but that nickname’s stuck for a long time) grew up with pop and rock but always had folk at her core, having cut her teeth playing jigs and reels in her dad’s ceilidh band. At university she went delving into studies of British and European folk music, the old fondness was reawakened, and her future was set. Her 2000 debut ‘Turn to Me’ swiftly won the BBC Radio 2’s Horizon Award. The follow-up, ‘Panchpuran’ (produced by Karen Tweed, and with string arrangements by Finnish composer Timo Alakotila) saw her providing new tunes for traditional lyrics and vice versa, but also broke the insular mould of British folk via the self-penned acapella title track in which she explored the immigrant tales and experiences within her own family. On 2003’s ‘Two Year Winter’, she finally became the musician she’d always wanted to be, transforming and reimagining old songs and their meaning while keeping within touching distance of their roots. As a third of the American/Irish/British Faire Winds trio (with Anne Hills and Aoife Clancy) she was also building a touring international fellowship of women.
And then, from 2004, she took a twelve-year sidestep. Maybe to the outside world, it seemed as if silence had fallen on her career: but any committed folk musician will tell you that even if any recordings don’t appear for a while the actual work, the engagement, the involvement, never really stops.That decade-and-a-half (during which Bill concentrated on family and on teaching) has left its own imprint on ‘Wonderful Fairytale’. The new album mingles time-tested folk tales about highwaymen, macabre loves, enduring friendships and tragic deaths with subtle singer-songwriter takes on more contemporary and personal concerns (feminist reflections; the re-evaluation of relationships; the ambiguous, sometimes joyful but always deepening effects of domesticity)
“…She’s lost nothing in the intervening time: musically, still as sleek as a seal and cool as an early autumn evening. If anything’s changed, it’s the emotional freighting: the passing years seem to have laid an extra presence on her, with the sense of unspoken things lurking closer behind the song.” -‘Misfit City’ music blog, reviewing My Elfin Knight video, Feb 2019