25 September 2023

Songs From The Village

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Jess + Matt, Sony Music Entertainment Australia 2018.

Songs From The Village joins the list of 60s covers albums that I’ve listened to recently.

I set out to review Jess and Matt’s efforts to join the nostalgia train with a little trepidation but I soon dropped any pre-conceived notions and thoroughly enjoyed the process.

The Sydney based duo have built their selection around the folk music that emerged out of Greenwich Village in the 60s from artists such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Simon and Garfunkel.

They grew up listening to these artists via their parents record collections and they have decided to bring these incredible songs to the attention of younger generations.

The couple, who became engaged in 2017, retraced the steps of the folk revolutionaries across many of their stomping grounds in New York City. It was a pilgrimage that shaped the album.

As part of their trip they played on the same tiny stage in The Bitter End where Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary and Simon & Garfunkel played. It must have been an inspiring experience.

Songs From The Village faithfully reproduces the sounds of the original recordings and the storytelling nature of the songs.

Jess and Matt have lovely voices and their warm and rich harmonies transcend time and resonate with a nostalgic validity.

Their interpretations are so good that in some cases it would be hard to pick them from the original recordings.

This is particularly the case with their Simon & Garfunkel covers, The Boxer, Mrs. Robinson, The Sounds Of Silence, Scarborough Fair. Their beautiful harmonies suit these songs perfectly.

I really like their version of Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright. It’s one of the best interpretations I’ve heard as is their cover of the extremely difficult Like A Rolling Stone.

They’ve put a good band together to record these songs.

The album was recorded at Rick Price’s home studio in Nashville and they were fortunate enough to get both Chris Isaak and Rick Price perform with them on the disc.

Chris Isaak sings on The Sounds Of Silence and Rick Price on House of The Rising Sun. House Of The Rising Sun has been de-Animalised and taken back to its Negro-Spiritual roots. It’s fantastic.

Although I’m not part of their intended audience it doesn’t make Jess and Matt’s efforts any the less worthy of my attention.

This is a good album.

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