Yorkshire folk artist Jack Rutter released his debut solo album Hills in 2017, which received critical acclaim within the genre. Two years on from that album, Rutter has collaborated with producer Joe Rusby for his second album Gold of Scar & Shale. A collection of unearthed gems from the folk canon, all of which are rare and many previously unrecorded, Rutter continues to forge his own path in the folk genre with his stripped-back approach.
Gold of Scar & Shale opens with I Was Once a Young Ploughboy and it’s a nice moment to get reacquainted with Rutter’s distinctive voice. He’s been compared to Seth Lakeman more than a few times but vocally he’s very different. His delivery is inflected with touches of his Yorkshire heritage, making his voice very memorable. If you need proof then have a listen to The Lancashire Liar and try getting it out of your head after it finishes. I was singing it for hours after my first listen.
The stories these songs tell are steeped in English history. Over half of them have ties to Rutter’s native Yorkshire and the inlay explains how he discovered each track. From manuscripts and books, through to being inspired by other artists. Fair Janet & Young James is one of the gentler moments on the record and it’s a track that allows Rutter to shine brightly. The Brundeanlaws, which Rutter discovered by way of Mike Tickell, features him singing with the accompaniment of a fiddle. Rutter’s voice drives the melody and it’s one of the highlights here.
Elsewhere on the record The Shepherd’s Song is an homage to singer and shepherd Willie Scott, Down By the Derwent Side showcases Rutter’s voice without any backing, and The Sledmere Poachers is a song about a dog named Sharp, which Rutter found in Holroyd’s Collection of Yorkshire Ballads. Fieldfares brings the album to a close and it’s a version of F. W. Moorman’s song from Songs of the Ridings, which was published in 1918.
Folk music is often an acquired taste and it’s certainly not a genre that everyone finds accessible. Rutter’s Gold of Scar & Shale does a good job of broadening the genre’s appeal while staying true to its roots. Putting a more youthful face to folk, it’s no surprise that Rutter is being hailed for attracting a new audience. There is much to enjoy here and even if you don’t think you like folk, I’d suggest you give it a try as it might surprise you.
Track list: 1. I Was Once a Young Ploughboy 2. The Hills of Longendale 3. The Lancashire Liar 4. Fair Janet & Young James 5. The Brundeanlaws 6. John White 7. The Shepherd’s Song 8. When Jones’s Ale Was New 9. Down By The Derwent Side 10. The Sledmere Poachers 11. Fieldfares Record label: RUTTCD025 via Proper Distribution Release date: 4th October 2019 Buy Gold of Scar & Shale