What a nice album! Jack Sharp is an English folk - or perhaps traditional - singer. 'Good Times Older' is his first solo album. Prior to releasing this, he spent over a decade fronting the "Psych-Rock" band Wolf People. Here he presents eleven songs featuring his fine clear voice and understated but hugely effective guitar.
Alongside we get some lovely splashes of concertina and backing vocals. Recorded and produced by Ian Carter in their home county of Bedfordshire, the production has a very nice sparse style that allows to songs to shine.
The opening title track ‘Good Times Older’ sets the tone. A version gleaned from a 1904 local newspaper submission. The song is from Jack’s home village. He “twists the lyrics” to view his own take while respecting the tradition. This is a recurring theme – timeless, traditional songs given a twenty-first century interpretation. The other stand out track for me is the final one ‘May Morning Dew’. Lovely concertina really captures the bittersweet aspect of the song.
I like his take on ‘Maids Lament’. I hear some nice fiddle playing here but none is credited, only a cello so maybe that’s it. ‘God Dog’, as they say is another good one – written by Robin Williamson and learned from members of the famous Collins traditional singing family.
The songs are mostly drawn from the English traditional set, with a couple of self-written songs that compliment the overall style. The obvious references here are Martin Carthy and Nic Jones. Clearly Jack has listened to lots of such masters of the art. However, he manages to avoid presenting a mere copy of such role models and adds a fresh and personal take on the idiom.
If you like fine folk and traditional songs freshly presented and delivered, ‘Good Times Older’ is recommended.