Launceston launch concert 06/06/13
It is always an excitement, often deeply felt, when one finds a kindred spirit, somebody whose work opens a door into a new dimension of one’s own creativity. When, as is the case with Jim Causley, the kindred spirit turns out to be not merely one of Britain’s most accomplished and widely loved poets, but also a distant relative, the outcome feels like an artist finding a destination from which to grow and evolve.
Looking on You Tube and through various web pages it’s evident that Jim Causley is a rising star of folk music, possessed of a resonant and evocative voice, and with high standards that bring an integrity to enhance the warmth of his work. The combination is rare and the result is that, for those drawn to him, his exploration is infectious and rewarding.
In Lanson on June 6th, with Pol Hodge, I was privileged to help launch the 2013 Charles Causley Festival at the Town Hall. We supported Jim Causley in launching ‘Cyprus Well’, his new album recorded at Charles Causley’s home on the poet’s piano and, in ghostly terms, in his presence. The album is a selection of Causley’s poems set in a strong folk idiom.
Jim Causley bears an uncanny physical resemblance to his relative. His personality is open and warm, witty and engaging. His stagecraft and musicality, learned over the decade or so he has toured and explored his chosen form, mean that he has come to the work of his laureate relative with an accomplishment that means the outcome is of equals meeting to make something new and whole, meaningful and beautiful. The obvious delight that Jim takes in Charles’ poetry stems from an empathy – both felt the power of the ballad, of the story, of the singer as poet and poet as singer.
I was moved beyond expectation by the performance in Lanson and played the album with some trepidation – surely it would not surpass the performance – wrong! This is a collection that explores the mysticism and lore of Charles’ work, with an emotional maturity and grounding which makes the album a rare thing in such an over-supplied modern world – it is a work of art, a sustained and accomplished musical exploration of the power of narrative poetry, an album which deserves to attract widespread and intelligent recognition.
The arrangements are sparse but rich, with some excellent performances – not least the excellent Pete Berryman’s guitar work on ‘Timothy Winters’ – the ‘production’ piece. The voice of Fernhill’s Julie Murphy complements and broadens the range. Ceri Owen Jones, Neil Davey, Hilary Coleman (Dalla), Bob Holland and Keith Marshall (PB3) Carl Allerfeldt and Nich Marsahll all add vigour and colour to the production. The whole dominated by Jim Causley’s wonderful voice.
Jim Causley has a voice which opens Charles’ work, offering a platform for the poems to find a new and accessible life. His melodic sense is uncannily attuned to Charles and his taste for lean arrangements which offer the words – precious words – a life. Jim alluded during the Lanson concert to Charles’ appearance on Desert Island Discs (BBC I-Player 1979). Hearing Charles’ eclectic and inquisitive taste in music reassures us that Jim and he, had they met, would have hit it off famously – the relationship is not simply one of genealogy – it is one founded in art and expression – more, and soon!
- Bert Biscoe
From the review of Mawkin:Causley's 'Awkward Recruit' album
"The finest male folk singer of his generation"
The Scene Newspaper
St Albans 16/02/05
If you think that all folkies are old codgers singing sea-shanties, then get yourself down to Redbourn Folk Club tomorrow night (Thursday).
Devonian Jim Causley, who is studying Traditional Music at Newcastle University, is forging ahead in the popularity stakes. By all accounts he has all the potential of a top class entertainer with wit, voice, oodles of talent and charm. You can see him at The Cricketers (opposite the Common in Redbourn). For further information etc etc
The Yorkshire Evening Post
re: Black Swan gig Feb 2004
Jim Causley, a student on the Traditional Music degree course at Newcastle University, is steeped in the folk traditions of his native East Devon (and he is related to Charles Causley to boot). He is cheeky and charming and his a cappella singing is as deep and rich as the best gravy, and fruity too, when the song demands it. Ballads, lyrical songs, broadsides, Causley could do them all last night, and if he affected a reluctance to play his accordion, it was all part of a relaxed air that affirmed the supreme confidence of this gifted young musician.
From the Folking.com review of 'Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man' by Waterson:Carthy featuring The Devil's Interval - 2006 Topic Records The rich bass of Jim Causley (surely one of the most endearing voices to emerge in recent times) and the incomparable warmth of Norma Waterson provides a foundation on which the other voices can build. Jim's voice is particularly prevalent on 'The falling tear', a real treat of a song sent to the Watersons for their 1978 album 'Sound on Sound', but amazingly was never included