It's been a long wait but finally eleven brand new delightfully pastoral ditties have now arrived from the pen of quirky troubadour Jason Mcniff to make up his fourth album proper, "April Cruel", which manages to surpass a previous best, 2003's "Nobody's Son". 'One of the UK's best kept secrets', phooey, if there's any justice this, his first for Fledg'ling, would be up there in Amazon's top selling folk albums in next to no time at all! 'Americana' it ain't - with able regulars, his right hand men, Graham Knight and Steve Brookes, on board, this is Jason's most English sounding set thus far despite the presence of those two rascals moonlighting from Italy's Modena City Ramblers, Franscesco Moneti on violin, mandolin and Daniele Contardo on melodeon popping up here and there. Jason has one of those voices, though not gifted with a great range, that's full of character and the listener will quickly warm to its nasally charms. That's where, previously, Dylan comparisons have been made but, really, Jason is very much his own man, totally unique, a one off, a terrific songwriter. Some splendid lyrics abound here, for instance, the opening lines to "Tombola", 'Norice smiles me a smile, got nothing to do with the war, with her skirt above her knees and her bare feet on the floor'. Some great musicianship, too, to cite a few examples, guest Lizzie O'Connor's banjo on "Mountain Song", the way Graham's piano rolls off the back of Jason's guitar during the break in "Howling Moon", plus there's Steve Brookes' snappy drumming throughout the beautiful "Lovely Lea" and, of course, Jason's own singing and guitar throughout the album as a whole and highlighted on his solo piece, "Seaside Song". Oh, and let's not forget the wonderful coda provided by Troubadour Rose's Bryony Afferson and Lizzie in "Bus Of Tears" where you can bathe in their sweet and exquisite life affirming harmonies and die a happy man. But, really, ALL the songs and performances here are truly great on this album. An instant classic which yields more subtleties with each successive play, sublime stuff from a true original. Needless to say, highly recommended.
This album is really delicious, beautiful stories meander through strong melodies.
Seaside Song takes you somewhere you have never been and yet is familiar, I am not sure how this singer/songwriter manages to this but to invest time in his songs is time well spent. Students of Love is such a classic you would expect it to be written by Paul Simon. This album is pure talented songwriting and is something I feel I can really indulge in.
You will not regret buying these songs, they will stay with you forever!
This guys songs are very real and moving,the poetry is brilliant, ive seen him perform, the music is fantastic. Im not a music critic of any kind but it moved me and thats all I need. Give us more McNiff.
Jason McNiff is one of my favourite artists and this new album fulfills all my expectations.
This CD is Jason McNiff's best yet (even better than "Nobody's Son" which was a great album), with all the tracks being totally original both lyrically and musically. I found that the more I listened to it the more I liked it and I would recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys beautiful guitar playing and likes to be moved by the words in a song."Mountain Song" is an amazing lyrical experience where Jason explains his emotions when writing a song. "Tombola" is a true story about a courageous operation where the SAS joined forces with the Italian and Partisans in 1945 and created havoc behind the German lines. "Lovely Lea" is a beautiful rendition with superb music that just makes you smile and "Pilgrim Soul" really challenges Jason's voice and you feel inspired after listening to it. "Kissing in the Wind" is incredible, especially the wonderful note that exactly represents the yawn of the hippo that Jason absolutely hits perfectly. The CD is worth the money just for this note. "April Cruel" is like nothing ever produced and is a magical experience to listen to and makes you feel quite melancholic. "Bus of Tears" starts slowly and then builds up to an crescendo demonstrating Jason's great song writing talent. This singer songwriter is hugely underestimated and it is a crying shame that he is not as successful as he deserves to be.
Buy this album and I promise you that you will not be disappointed.