Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Like all good journeys, Jigdoll starts with a kind of hush, the shadow of least expectancy and the haunting breath in the dark, the silence growing till finally the realisation hits home that something nurtured by the elements is about to be unleashed. Like the island at the centre of the world in The Tempest, it is a world populated by the unknown and the spectral, of the rising swell and the phantom cries of nature berating and beating its heart in time to the passing of each moment on the album.
Jigdoll may start with the sound of a solitary breathe but it soon turns into a tornado, an unstoppable avalanche that blissfully catches fire and creates a tension, a conflict that can only be abated, never controlled. It is a tornado that whips a savage sea into shape and rather than leaving desolation in its wake, instead it produces power, unmistakeable and unrelenting, yet beneath its surface it is still able to make the listener’s heart feel satisfied and safe in its care.
Hannah James combines the richness of sound and imagination in her solo album, the product of atmosphere, the rhythm that dances unseen but felt with each marker of the pulse laid down by the agility of accordion, voice and foot percussion, it is a dance that suggests you would be grateful to be asked to attend and to be swept off your feet by and in terms of experience, feels oddly unique and devastatingly haunting.
In tracks such as Barefoot Waltz, Tuulikki’s Tune, Treasures and Karen’s, the musician aims high with her voice, with the intrigue firmly entrenched and it leaps, bounding above the parapet, with integrity intact, captures something unworldly, furtively qualified to make the listener catch their own breath, make them swallow down hard on their preconceptions and relish the sunshine that comes from out the dark.
Jigdoll is an album that comes out of nowhere and sits at the table waiting patiently till you know that the whispering of attraction is loud, practised and forceful, like a seasoned politician biding their time to bring a house to order, Hannah James is so tough that she can stop a listener in their tracks but gentle enough to soothe their worries away.
Hannah James releases Jigdoll on September 2nd.
Ian D. Hall