Highlights: The Golden Glove, Lord Douglas, Hind Etin
Jim Moray’s fifth is a traditional-sounding folk album of superior quality. Smooth, milky stuff, handsomely sung and tastefully arranged. From Fairport Convention to The Albion Band, the suspects are the usual lot, but folk music (not folk-rock, mind you, mostly folk-pop here) is the one art institution that allows a certain lack of identity. As long as it is done so expertly and with this much charm.
As far as the album’s problems go, I’d say that Skulk seems somewhat frontloaded. Actually, the first six songs (bar maybe the slightly overdramatic “If It’s True” – interestingly, quite reminiscent of Patrick Wolf’s latest) are all impeccable. Just don’t expect diversity. We have an effective a cappella number (“Horkstow Grange”), “Matty Groves”-styled drive (“Hind Etin”) and gorgeous epic balladry (“Lord Douglas”), but Skulk basically remains faithful to its unadorned folk roots. On side two Moray indulges in his love for pop music (there’s an interesting banjo-driven take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love”), and contains, among other thing, a rather uninspired, commercialized take on Nic Jones’ brilliant “Courting Is A Pleasure”.
Overall, a little more edge would be appreciated, but this is pleasant, appealing stuff. In a cynical mood you could in all probability consider this yet another folk sellout… Except it’s good. Oh and as a bonus track we have Jim’s energetic, Elvis-esque “Hogeye Man” (“Hound Dog” with barely audible folkish vibes). Not much, but lovely.