June 2017 Update: this item on Jez Lowe appeared six years ago, and referred to a review from four years before that, but my admiration for the singer and his wonderful observations on life and events remains undiminished. Check out his own site for more information. Otherwise, what you see below is essentially what was published in 2011 ...
Right, it's time to start filling the pages of Salut! Live and I can think of no better way, other than persuading Pete Sixsmith to submit some more live reviews, than to look into the archives. Any visitor to this site can explore what has appeared here by navigating the sidebars, but I have also written on folk and related topics for various publications.
The routine view of Jez Lowe - that he is an unrivalled observer of north-eastern working-class life - is kind but incomplete. A profoundly impressive new album shows how much broader is the scope of his interests. Contributions he made to the BBC series, The Radio Ballads, which are included here, deal with universal pictures of shipbuilding, seafaring communities and, on The Miami, the vicious loyalist attack on the Miami Showband in Northern Ireland in 1976. The North is never far away - Jack Common, the central theme, was a Geordie writer befriended by Orwell - but there are songs, too, inspired by Yeats and Heaney, and by the road, and their quality is consistently high. Lowe has earned the right to be counted among England's finest contemporary songwriters.
I went on to list the album among my best for 2007, with these words posted here at the time:
The people at Proper Distribution suggested that I was the chief culprit in a syndrome I myself had identified – treating Lowe as an unrivalled observer of north-eastern working-class life but failing to recognise his broader scope. That is not completely true, even though I am a great admirer of his ability to chronicle northern life. But let me say loudly and clearly that with songs inspired by Yeats and Heaney, this album shows the impressive depth of one England's finest contemporary songwriters.
This, and a more recent Jez album that includes a lot of classics, Northern Echoes, can be bought at the usual knockdown prices by clicking here my Amazon link.