simple acoustic music. passion, anger, heart and a sense of humour and absolutely nothing at all like James Blunt
Love In The Time of Fear is the second release from Jay Wars And The Howard Youth. Jay was the lead singer of the sadly missed Australian celtic-punk band Between The Wars who split up in 2012 after a string of highly rated albums and singles. Among the things that stood out the most from their various recordings was Jay’s lyrical output so it was with relief that we heard he was going to carry on and keep recording. Last years first album Carry Me Home was pretty much Jay recording a solo version of a Between The Wars album but with guest appearances from half his old band giving the album that unmistakeable BTW sound. On Love In The Time of Fear Jay has expanded on that sound somewhat and though the album is much less celtic-punk it still has that BTW thing about it. The music may be less celtic and more punky but its still an absolute knockout and more than deserving of being our very first review of 2016.
The album begins with ‘Pyne In The Closet’ and Jays chugging guitar and Hayley’s amazing fiddle work along with a more than solid backline with Dan on drums and Crow on bass give it a real foot tapping feel right from the off. The BTW sound is there but now mixed up and blended with the English punk sound of bands like the Newtown Neurotics. Jay wears his politics on his chest and its working class struggle that interests him. Not the pampered politics of the middle class left but the blood and guts of life at the bottom of the ladder. ‘Don’t Cross The Line’ is the eleventh commitment of the international working classes. The line in question being the picket line and a very special contempt is reserved for those that strike break and cross picket lines stabbing their fellow workers in the backs. In the words of this ancient Irish saying (curse!)
“May the lamb of God stir his hoof through the roof of heaven and kick you in the arse down to hell”
The song features special guest vocals from Ronan MacManus the lead singer of the London Irish celtic rockers The Bible Code Sundays. Fast and furious and fecking angry and quite rightly so. One to play before you leave the house to right a wrong I’d say… Another of the album’s highlights is the next track ‘A Girl Called Hope’ with Jays words like poetry to this ear, easily understood and crystal clear. The track has a kind of a frantic country feel to it with great wailing backing vocals and the story is classic Jay with a tale of love gone murderously wrong.
By now you can get a feel for where this album is going and ‘Done And Dusted’ continues in much the same vein with a catchy tune and more of Jay’s unmistakable lyrics. It really is worth getting the headphones on to catch it all. ‘Alive!’ brings out the banjo and is a simply effective punk song again with Hayley’s fiddle giving it that bit extra. ‘Let Me Start Again’ is the fastest song on the album though still keeping it acoustic. ‘The Ballad Of 1846’ is a story of a young Irishman arriving in Melbourne in 1846 and finding the promised land contained the same prejudice that he had left behind in Ireland. This prejudice is that of the Orange kind. The extreme Protestant anti-Catholic and anti-Irish bigotry that the British transported across the globe in order to keep the Irish down. Fascism under any other name the Orange bigots (named after the colours of a bisexual Dutch king who defeated the British king James II in 1690… yeah go figure!!) still strut their stuff around the north of Ireland as well as Scotland and a few dwindling places left in England. Around July 12 every year they demand the right to pass triumphantly through Catholic areas and every they are quite rightly resisted “by any means possible”.
“when I see you wave that Orange flag I see red instead”
The following song ‘Abraham Brown’ was a collaboration between Jay and Kevin Prested, an Englishman now based in Melbourne and is the tale of a young man transported to Australia back in the 1830’s. Social history told through the eyes of Jay who is a real master of songs like these. Beautiful and evocative you close your eyes and the image of Abraham’s voyage fills your mind. ‘Play Another Song’ keeps it upbeat and ‘One Last Love Song’ brings the album to an end. Jay’s songs range from stories of the sea and love gone wrong as well as heartfelt political songs that steer clear of browbeating and lecturing. His writing seems simple but is in way simple. I would say genius but knowing Jay I also know he is a humble and generous soul who would blush at such a epitaph chucked in his direction. Simply to say Jay is as good a writer that celtic-punk has and his music is truly soul music.
Over a year ago in November 2014 we wrote
“It may be another chapter but its not the end of the book for Jay and we look forward to hearing much more from him”
Well Love In The Time of Fear is a great 2nd chapter in Jay Wars history and we love the evolution of the sound into a full on band while keeping a toe firmly in the acoustic-celtic-folk of what has been before. The great news for us is that Jay will soon be joining us on these shores. What on earth has possessed him to leave Australia to come here to the doom and gloom and rain of northern England is anyone’s guess but we can count ourselves lucky that we will get to see a lot more of Jay in the near future. The album is out in just under a month on Whisk And Key Records in Australia and is available for pre-order at the link below. When more links come in we will add them.
Buy The Album
WhiskAndKeyRecords (out February 5th 2016)
Between The Wars
We got a load of related stuff here including an interview with Jay here, a review of the first Jay Wars album Carry Me Home here and a review of the final Between The Wars album ‘Wont Go Quietly’ here.