Bill's approach is, on the surface, a little more traditional than many, yet get a...
Chris Jones 2003
Just four years on from her first performance, Bill Jones must be pinching herself. In that time she's released two award-winning albums (Turn To Me, Panchpuran) and an EP; she's won the Best Newcomer award at the 2001 BBC Folk awards and has just emerged triumphant from a performance at WOMAD on the eve of a headlining national tour. Now it's time for album number three. Along with the release of Jim Moray's debut album Sweet England, with its blend of folk standards and 21st century technology, and Eliza Carthy's Anglicana receiving a Mercury nomination, Two Year Winter just goes to show how folk music benefits from this type of young blood.
There certainly must be something in the North East's water at the moment, with so much young talent emerging from the region. Bill's approach is, on the surface, a little more traditional than many, yet get a little deeper and there's more to this stuff than a sweet voice. Previous work showed a strong theme of the injustices of working class life but this time around Bill (that's short for Belinda, if you didn't already know) has gone for a set of tunes that seem more concerned with the injustice of the hearts affairs.
There's still a fair smattering of traditional songs, but all take love as their subject, whether it be innocent, (''The Haymakers''), forbidden (''The Holland Mistress''), abusive (''Hey Away'') or even haunted (''The Lovers Ghost''). Her accordion playing also shows no sign of slacking off either as she negotiates numerous reels and jigs with tastefully sparse accompaniment from David Wood (guitar), Stewart Hardy (violin) and especially the haunting cello of Shanti Paul Jayasinha.
Her true depth is revealed on a song like ''The Story Of Our Darling Grace'' where the heroine's tale is retold to show how media manipulation isnt just a present-day problem. The only danger lies in the fact that such a tragic story could be obscured by the delicate Irish tune that lifts it. Yet Two Year Winter demonstrates conclusively how Bill - in showing no fear in tackling a genre that many would feel you have to be born and raised in (and remember, she was a precocious classical talent in her youth) - has become indispensable in the future of British folk music.