Paul Clarvis, Liam Noble, Cathy Jordan: Freight Train

With drummer Clarvis and pianist Noble, Irish singer Jordan reminds of Mose Allison as she convincingly blends a disparate range of styles

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Born in Scramogue, County Roscommon, in 1972, singer and multi-instrumentalist Cathy Jordan has been a significant presence in the world of Irish music for almost three decades. She has performed internationally, often as leader of Dervish, and has made numerous albums. She was Sligo Cultural Ambassador in 2018 and the following year received the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award.

Although her Irish musical roots run deep, on this occasion Jordan has drawn her repertoire from many genres. Sometimes fully embraced, at other times hinted at with subtle care, these genres include jazz, blues, musical theatre and country. As did Mose Allison, Jordan blends disparate musical forms with seemingly effortlessly ease and in all of them she is vocally commanding and a constant pleasure to hear. Perhaps unsurprisingly, four of Allison’s songs are included: I Don’t Worry, If You’re Going To The City, Top 40 and Was.

Touches of jazz and the blues appear with Duke Ellington & Barney Bigard’s Mood Indigo and Ain’t Nobody’s Business by Porter Grainger & Everett Robbins, which contrast strikingly with Robert & Richard Sherman’s Truly Scrumptious. In the early 1950s Bing Crosby had a hit with Dick Farrelly’s Isle Of Innesfree and Jordan’s treatment ensures that this, too, fits in really well, as does country music’s The Beast In Me, which was written by Nick Lowe and first recorded by Johnny Cash.

Two songs that are a particular delight were also long-ago hits for other singers. Composed in 1904 by 11-year-old Elizabeth Cotten, Freight Train became an international hit in the 1950s thanks to recordings by Peggy Seeger, Lonnie Donegan and others. From 1902 is a song by Paul Lincke & Heinrich Bolten Baeckers from their operetta Lysistrata, which was given English-language lyrics five years later by Lilla Cayley Robinson. A half-century on, with some colloquial changes by Johnny Mercer this became a huge hit for The Mills Brothers. It is a mark of Jordan’s vocal skill that her versions of these songs are in no way overshadowed by those forerunners.

The 2020 tracks were recorded during Covid lockdown, which separated these three musicians geographically; the singer in Roscommon and drummer Paul Clarvis and pianist Liam Noble in London. Performing admirably, Cathy Jordan is an exceptional singer and this album will be enjoyed by many.

Discography
(1) Dear Someone; (2) I Don’t Worry About A Thing; Freight Train; The Beast In Me; The Glow Worm; (1) Mood Indigo; Truly Scrumptious; Isle Of Innesfree; (2) If You’re Going To The City, (1) Somewhere (no vocal); Ain’t Nobody’s Business; (2) Top 40; Was (50.01)
(1) Jordan (v, bouzouki, bodhran, bones); Noble (p, syn); Clarvis (d). London & Roscommon, July 2020. (2) London, January 2022.
Village Life 1411222